Military action ‘could help Syria’

Jo Cox, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, 2015.
Jo Cox, Labour MP for Batley and Spen, 2015.
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MILITARY actION should be part of a solution to end the barbarity in Syria, a Labour MP has claimed, as members begin to pull away from pacifist leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Jo Cox, MP for Batley and Spen, told the House of Commons last night that to hold back is to ignore the ‘right’ messages from Iraq.

As debate around a potential vote on miliatary intervention in Syria looms over the first day back in Parliament following the Autumn party conferences, Mrs Cox said there is a case for military intervention, as well as a humanitarian and diplomatic response.

She denied her debate ‘undermined’ Mr Corbyn, but said she had to use her experience as an aid worker to make a case for action.

This should be aimed at President Assad, who she said has a strategy of bombardment which is responsible for 75 per cent of the country’s civilian deaths.

She said: “He is the primary reason are fleeing the Syrian crisis and it’s indiscriminate and it’s been going on for years.”

She said a no bombing zone with US, French and UK capabilities in the region would create a deterrent to ‘stop him doing it’.

“Unless we change the battlefield dynamic with the maiming and killing civilians then nothing is going to change,” she added.

Her comments come as she launches a new all-party Parliamentary group on Syria today, and in a show of cross-party support, penned a plea for intervention alongside former Conservative International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell.

Mrs Cox, a former aid worker and former head of policy at Oxfam, said: “There is a military component to this that will save lives. I’m worried that the Labour party is clouded by what happened in Iraq. It was the darkest hour for Labour but if we turn our backs on Syria we will be learning the wrong message from Iraq, not the right one.”

Her views put her at odds with the Labour Party’s new leader Jeremy Corbyn, and believes her push for action will be supported party-wide as many MPs are keen ‘to do the right thing’.

She said she’s spoken to him, but there’s been no ‘angry exchange’.

She said: “It’s not designed to take on or undermine Jeremy in anyway. It’s to genuinely create debate.”

She said: “We have to challenge two key myths. Firstly that Isis is the only threat to peace, stability and civilians in Syria - President Assad is killing his own people with impunity. Both have flourished due to the absence of a concerted international response and both must be stopped.

“The second myth is that our response has to be humanitarian, diplomatic or military.

“An effective, ethical response has to include all three. There is no military solution to this conflict but there has to be a military aspect to a broader strategy.

“There is nothing ethical about standing to one side when civilians are being murdered and maimed.

“There was no excuse in Bosnia, nor Rwanda and there isn’t now.”

It was announced on Monday that Jordanian armed forces are to receive equipment worth £2.4 million from the Government to help tackle Isis.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has proposed gifting transport vehicles, body armour, communications and IT equipment to help them develop a “quick reaction force”, which their army currently lacks.

This would help them counter emergent threats on their Syrian and Iraqi borders.