Holidaying David Cameron shrugs off barbs over Iraq strategy
The UK will not be “dragged into a war in Iraq”, ministers insisted as the Government defended its decision to move beyond simply providing humanitarian aid.
David Cameron said the Government has a “fully worked through” strategy to tackle Islamic State (IS) extremists and argued that limited action was needed to prevent violence spreading to British streets.
The Prime Minister said the UK was ready to provide arms to Kurdish fighters who were the “first line of defence” against the “murderous extremists” of IS in northern Iraq.
Mr Cameron, who cut short a break in Portugal earlier this month to respond to the emergency, is expected to head to Cornwall for another holiday this week but insisted he will be able to manage the Government's response to the crisis from there.
“Wherever I am, wherever I am in the world I am always within a few feet of a BlackBerry and an ability to manage things should they need to be managed,” he said.
He maintained his resistance to recalling Parliament to debate the crisis, saying it was unnecessary as “we are not contemplating things that would require that”.
With the US carrying out air strikes against IS forces, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon revealed at the weekend that the RAF had now deployed the Rivet Joint surveillance aircraft alongside Tornado jets to provide vital intelligence on extremist movements across Iraq.
Labour and senior Church of England bishops have complained that the Government has no “coherent or comprehensive approach” to Islamist extremism and is failing to protect Christians from persecution.
Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces and Kurdish fighters have wrested back control of the country's largest dam from the hands of Islamic militants who captured it less than two weeks ago.
The development marks the first major victory for Iraqi and Kurdish troops since US air strikes began earlier this month and could boost their morale as they try to free territory overrun by the Islamic State group in a blitz this summer.
The Mosul Dam — spanning the Tigris River just north of Iraq's second-largest city of Mosul — and its broader complex hold great strategic value as they supply electricity and water to a large part of the country.