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Cameron hails UN backing against IS 'death cult'

Published 20/11/2015

France called for swift action in the wake of the massacre
France called for swift action in the wake of the massacre

United Nations Security Council backing for more concerted international action against the Islamic State (IS) was hailed as an "important moment" by Prime Minister David Cameron as he seeks to bolster support for UK air strikes in Syria.

A French-drafted resolution urging countries to "combat by all means this unprecedented threat" garnered universal approval tonight in the wake of the Paris atrocities.

The text was backed by Russia - the threat of whose veto has led Western nations to hold back from seeking UN backing until the scenario-changing bombing of a Russian airliner and last Friday's massacre on the streets of the French capital which killed 129 people.

Mr Cameron said the vote "shows beyond doubt the breadth of international support for doing more in Syria and for decisive action to eradicate" IS - also referred to as Isil and Isis.

The resolution fell short of providing a legal basis for military action and did not invoke the chapter of the UN charter authorising the use of force.

But the Prime Minister - who insists the legal case is solid even without it - will hope it will help persuade Labour MPs to approve an escalation of the UK's military involvement in the face of staunch opposition from Jeremy Corbyn.

The Labour leader will use a speech tomorrow to underline his position, declaring that being "at the centre of a succession of disastrous wars" had undermined British security.

Mr Cameron - who is preparing to publish his case for UK forces joining air strikes - said: "Today, the world has united against Isil.

"The international community has come together and has resolved to defeat this evil, which threatens people of every country and every religion.

"The United Nations Security Council has unanimously backed action against this evil death cult in both Syria and Iraq. It has also reiterated its determination to secure a political solution to the conflict in Syria.

"Britain will continue to support our allies who are fighting Isil in Syria. I will continue to make the case for us to do more and to build support in Parliament for the action that I believe is necessary for Britain to take to protect our own security, as part of a determined international strategy.

"We cannot expect others to shoulder the burdens and the risks of protecting this country."

The resolution - co-sponsored by the UK which at present holds the rotating presidency of the security council - condemns a number of terror attacks - including the murder of 30 Britons in a Tunisian beach resort in June.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the Paris attacks had "stiffened the resolve of the international community in its determination to defeat Isil".

"We must all act by continuing to cut off its finance, severing its access to oil and stemming the flow of foreign fighters, in addition to the military action we are taking against this evil ideology," he said.

Mr Cameron was also boosted by the assertion of the chairman of an influential Commons committee that raised serious doubts about the case for Britain joining air strikes that its concerns had "in large part" been answered.

The PM vowed this week to lay out a "comprehensive" case in reply to the foreign affairs committee's strongly-worded report that questioned the coherence of the Government's approach.

However its Tory chairman Crispin Blunt told the Guardian that the world faced "a completely different set of circumstances" since the report was published - notably progress towards agreeing a political transition and ceasefire to end Syria's civil war.

"In large part that has answered the questions that the committee has rightly asked," he said.

"Clearly the Russian position has changed and equally there has been a change in the position of the West in that it now seems to be willing to tolerate Syrian president Bashar Assad staying during a political transition leading to elections in 18 months.

"You tell me if there is a serious prospect that Assad would survive in such elections if they are properly overseen by the United Nations and in which millions of Syrians currently forced out of the country are allowed to take part."

He conceded that there was "no great military necessity for the UK to be involved" as there were more warplanes and bombs than there were targets.

"But there may be a political requirement to be involved."

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