Britain Rules Out Airstrikes in Syria

Britain will not participate in any airstrikes on Syria but won't rule anything out in helping the root out the Islamic State.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Philip Hammond
Philip Hammond
Flash 90

Britain will not participate in any airstrikes on Syria but otherwise is ruling nothing out as it considers how to support U.S. President Barack Obama's plan to root out the Islamic State group, the British foreign secretary said Thursday, according to The Associated Press (AP).

Obama on Wednesday authorized U.S. airstrikes inside Syria for the first time, along with expanded strikes in Iraq as part of "a steady, relentless effort" to root out the extremists.

"Britain will not be taking part in any airstrikes in Syria," Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said in Berlin, speaking alongside German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

He said London won't be "revisiting" the issue after Parliament decided last year against participating in airstrikes.

Germany has decided to arm Kurdish forces fighting extremists, putting aside its usual reluctance to send weapons into conflicts. Asked about participating in airstrikes, Steinmeier said, "We have neither been asked to do that, nor will we do that."

Hammond said British officials "will look very carefully at the U.S.-led plan, and we will look at how the UK can best contribute to that plan, ruling nothing out at this stage."

Both ministers said a regional alliance is needed against Islamic State fighters, but they made no new commitments.

France has indicated its willingness to participate in airstrikes against IS in Iraq, but its Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius has also said that a different strategy would be needed in Syria.

Asked whether Iran needs to be involved in the drive to stabilize Iraq and Syria, Steinmeier said he has long made clear that "in the long run, Iran's participation will be unavoidable" in resolving Syria's conflict.

Hammond said that "the Iranians have shown themselves willing to engage pragmatically" in Iraq, although differences with the West over its nuclear program persist.