LONDON/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Prime Minister David Cameron said he wanted Britain to join U.S.-led air strikes against the Islamic State militant group after the Iraqi government requested London’s help and he recalled parliament to secure its approval for military action.
Parliament, which was in recess, will reconvene on Friday to vote on allowing Britain’s Royal Air Force to hit Islamic State targets in northern Iraq. The action has the backing of all three main parties and is expected to comfortably pass.
Cameron spoke after U.S. planes pounded Islamic State positions in Syria for a second day. But the strikes did not halt the fighters’ advance in a Kurdish area where fleeing refugees told of villages burnt and captives beheaded.
“We must not be so frozen with fear that we don’t do anything at all,” Cameron told the 193-member United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday. “We have a need to act in our own national interest to protect our people and our society. So it is right that Britain should now move to a new phase of action.”
He described Islamic State as having a “sick extremist world view.”
Britain, a staunch U.S. ally, was quick to join military action in Afghanistan and Iraq a decade ago. But a war-weary public and parliament’s rejection last year of air strikes on Syrian government targets prompted Cameron to proceed cautiously this time and win cross-party support before acting.
“What we are doing is legal and it is right. It does not involve British combat troops on the ground,” Cameron said earlier in New York. “I’m confident we will get this through on an all-party basis.”
Cameron said the Iraqi government had requested British air strikes. He met with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi earlier on Wednesday at the United Nations.
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