British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has told parliament that the UK should consider authorizing air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, saying, ''We are engaged in a fight that will last a generation''. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: British lawmakers should consider authorizing air strikes against Islamic State targets in Syria, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon urged the parliament on Thursday (July 2). Britain conducts regular attacks in neighboring Iraq and flies drones over Syria to gather intelligence on the group. But unlike some other coalition partners, it does not target Islamic State positions in Syria as Prime Minister Cameron failed to get the go-ahead from parliament to do that in 2013. Last week, 30 Britons died in an Islamist attack in Tunisia. Fallon said that attack in Tunisia -- as well as those in Kuwait and France -- on June 26 were "a chilling reminder that the world we are living in has become a darker more dangerous place". "We are engaged in a fight that will last a generation," he told the parliament's House of Commons, making a case for strikes in Syria. "We know that ISIS is organized and directed from northern Syria, that's why the prime minister said during the debate last September on taking military action in Iraq, that, I quote 'There is a strong case for us to do more in Syria'," he said, referring to the insurgents as ISIS. "It is for all members to consider carefully how best to tackle ISIL, an evil caliphate that does not respect state boundaries," Fallon said. Cameron was visibly shaken after losing the 2013 Syria vote. He wants to be sure he can win any vote in parliament this time and so is not expected to call a vote until after the summer so he can gauge the support of the opposition Labour Party which is in the throes of choosing a new leader. "Our position, therefore remains, that we would return to this house for approval before conducting air strikes in Syria, the exception, as the house knows, is if there was a critical British national interest at stake or the need to act to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe," Fallon said. A Downing Street spokeswoman rejected the idea that such strikes in Syria could strengthen President Bashar al-Assad, who Cameron has in the past said is part of the problem, not the solution.