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UK poised to strike against Isis: Cameron admits Britain's armed forces could join US bombing raids

By Nigel Morris

David Cameron is preparing the ground for authorising British airstrikes against Isis forces in Iraq and Syria within weeks, following talks with US President Barack Obama.

The Prime Minister struck his most hawkish note on combating the growing Isis threat as 35 heads of state and government met in Newport, South Wales, for a Nato summit dominated by the crises in the Middle East and Ukraine.

He said for the first time that there would be no legal obstacle to bombing Isis positions in Syria – and announced Britain would start supplying lethal military equipment to Kurdish forces resisting the Islamist advance.

But although Nato leaders debated how to combat Isis, which calls itself Islamic State, Mr Obama has yet to ask other nations to join American bombing missions.

Earlier Mr Cameron and the president held a 40-minute meeting where they expressed their "clear determination to confront the (Isis) threat and how to do that in the long term", UK sources said.

The president's failure to spell out his exact intentions frustrates some British ministers as well as his critics in the US, but yesterday Mr Cameron ramped up his rhetoric about the danger posed by Isis and is edging towards committing Britain to military involvement in the region.

Conservative whips have started taking soundings at Westminster over Tory MPs' attitudes to military action, indicating that the backbench mood was "hardening" on the issue. They are preparing to test the temperature in a Commons debate on the Middle East next Wednesday.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats are indicating that they could back bombing missions as long as there was regional support.

Following the murders of two American journalists and the threat to the British captive, David Haines, Mr Cameron also pleaded with fellow leaders not to cave in to demands from Isis for money for their release. He urged them to stick to previous agreements not to pay ransoms. He said: "It is utterly self-defeating. It is worse than self-defeating. It is actually a risk to us at home."

The Prime Minister ratcheted up the case for airstrikes when he dismissed suggestions that bombing raids on Isis positions in Syria would need the permission of President Bashar al-Assad's government. "My view is that President Assad is part of the problem, rather than part of the solution," he said.

Meanwhile, an announcement about sanctions against Russia will be made today in Brussels, following talks at the Newport summit with the Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko.

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