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Cameron calls for British air strikes in fight against IS

By James Tapsfield

David Cameron has promised to set out a "comprehensive" strategy for tackling Islamic State (IS) on Thursday that will include British air strikes on the terrorists' bases in Syria.

The Prime Minister confirmed he would be coming to parliament to "make the case" for wider military action after holding talks with French president Francois Hollande in the wake of the attacks on Paris.

Unveiling the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) to MPs, Mr Cameron (below) said IS - also known as Isil, Isis or Daesh - was "not some remote problem thousands of miles away".

"It has already taken the lives of British hostages and carried out the worst attack against British people since 7/7 on the beaches of Tunisia, to say nothing of the seven terrorist plots right here in Britain that have been foiled by our security services over the past year," he said.

"On Thursday I will come to this House and make a further statement responding personally to the Foreign Affairs Committee. I will make the case for Britain to join our international allies in going after Isil in their headquarters in Syria, not just in Iraq.

"I will explain how such action would be one element of a comprehensive and long-term strategy to defeat Isil in parallel with major international effort to bring an end to the war in Syria."

Standing alongside Mr Hollande in the Elysee Palace earlier, Mr Cameron said: "The United Kingdom will do all in our power to support our friend and ally France to defeat this evil death cult. I firmly support the action that President Hollande has taken to strike Isil in Syria and it is my firm conviction that Britain should do so too."

Mr Cameron said he had offered the French air force the use of RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus to mount strikes on IS as well as RAF air-to-air refuelling support.

Mr Hollande welcomed the British support and said it was essential to strike IS in its heartlands in Syria.

"France has taken the decision last September. It is up to the United Kingdom how it can commit and operate," he said.

"We will intensify our strikes, we will choose the targets that yield the best possible damage against the terrorist army."

Meanwhile, French police yesterday found an explosive belt in the southern Paris suburb of Montrouge. Police are analysing the belt to see if it might have been used in the November 13 attacks, an official said.

Earlier, Belgian authorities charged a fourth suspect with terrorism offences after the arrests of 16 people on Sunday.

The federal prosecutor said in a statement that the suspect, who was not identified, was charged with "participation in the activities of a terrorist group and a terrorist attack", referring to the November 13 assault on Paris.

Authorities charged three others with similar offences last week. The other 15 people detained on Sunday evening have been released.

Belfast Telegraph


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