Conservative MP among first in Yorkshire to publicly back air strikes on Isil

Alec Shelbrooke MP
Alec Shelbrooke MP
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BRITISH troops on the ground should be considered as part of Britain's response to Isil in Syria, a Yorkshire MP has suggested, as he is among the first in the region to publicly back the Prime Minister's air strikes plan.

Alec Shelbrooke, MP for Elmet and Rothwell, said David Cameron has his full backing on the campaign to bomb Isil targets, but the Conservative goes one step further and believes the Government should not hesitate in sending British ground troops too.

The Prime Minister spent three hours in the House of Commons on Thursday taking questions on his plan to carry out strikes in Syria to try and defeat Islamic State, whose so-called caliphate now controls large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Mr Cameron said the Royal Air Force's equipment is sophisticated enough to make a real difference to the current bombing campaigns of France and the USA, and that he believed there were also 70,000 moderate forces on the ground who could support Britain's campaign from the skies.

Mr Shelbrooke said: "It's very simple for me. I fully support military intervention. I go further and say of there's a need for ground troops we should supply them.

"I've no worries about the legality of it. The only thing on the ground troops issue is that if we need to put a force together, it would have to be a wide force, including Russia, France, Iran and the USA. Countries all together so it's not seen as just Western intervention, but I would have no worries about having British troops there."

He said he had no reason to doubt the Prime Minister's figure of a guaranteed 70,000 allied troops within the Free Syrian Army and Syrian Kurdish forces that would work on the ground if Britain started bombing.

However if Brits soldiers were needed additionally to help this 70,000, Mr Cameron should consider sending them.

Read more: Cameron 'winning over' Yorkshire Conservatives on case for bombing Isil

Mr Shelbrooke said: "I'm a big supporter of military intervention because of the clear and present danger to our country. We know that if this issue isn't dealt with, there will be mass death on our streets.

"One will inevitably get through, but if we try to diminish (Isil) at their based then obviously they are not going to be able to plan attacks on us."

He said those who want a political settlement should consider the difficulty in negotiating with religious fundamentalists and terrorists.

He said: "Isil go and kill even the Sunni Muslims who don't toe in with them. All you can do it take military action."

It's crucial the international aid budget is well financed, he added, as it is another way of stopping the influence of Isil, particularly in Yemen.

A vote by Mr Cameron on strikes is due before the Christmas parliamentary recess on December 17 which leaves him 14 days to table a motion, but he has said repeatedly that he wants a broad coalition across the House.

"I think David Cameron can win the vote with just Conservatives. I think the bigger story here is what the Labour party is going to do."

Huge divisions have erupted between the Labour party following leader Jeremy Corbyn's letter that he would not support air strikes, while shadow foreign secretary Hilary Benn said he would.

The 70,000 Syrian opposition fighters described by Mr Cameron include the Free Syrian Army, Kurdish armed groups and moderate armed Sunni Arabs, as well as the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army.