David Cameron is prepared to hold a Commons vote on extending air strikes to Syria by Christmas after saying that there is a “compelling case” for further military intervention in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
The Prime Minister said Britain needs to target the “head of the snake” by mounting air strikes in Raqqa, Isil’s headquarters in Syria, to deal with the “direct and growing threat to our country”.
He told the Commons that the case for military intervention has “grown stronger” in the wake of the Paris terror attacks, which left 129 dead and dozens wounded.
Mr Cameron said: “After the horror must come our resolve and determination to rid the world of this evil. It is in Syria, in Raqqa, that Isil has its headquarters and it is from Raqqa that some of the main threats against this country are planned and orchestrated. Raqqa, if you like, is the head of the snake.”
He added: “In this situation, we do not protect the British people by sitting back and wishing things were different. We have to act to keep our people safe, and that is what this Government will always do.”
The Telegraph understands Mr Cameron is prepared to hold the vote on Syria next month if it can win enough support from MPs.
The Prime Minister has been emboldened the growing disarray within the Labour party over Mr Corbyn’s stance on terrorism and by public outrage over the Paris terror attacks.
He will within days publish a dossier setting out the case for extending air strikes into Syria in response to a series of concerns raised by the Conservative-led foreign affairs select committee.
The Ministry of Defence will then hold a series of briefings with MPs from all parties on the fight against Isil as the government seeks to build up support for further intervention.
Government sources said that they expect around 20 Conservative MPs to rebel in a Commons vote on Syria but are optimistic that they can win the support of up to 30 Labour MPs for military intervention.
Mr Cameron’s renewed effort to have Britain take part in Syria Air strikes comes after the French President Francois Hollande said he wants a new United Nations Security Council resolution to “destroy” Isil.
President Obama also called on other nations to “step up” their efforts in the fight against the extremist group. Mr Cameron is likely to want a parliamentary mandate in order for Britain to help pass such a motion.
Mr Cameron’s Commons address came as:
Russia mounted a series of major strikes on Isil targets in Raqqa after Vladimir Putin, the President, said he wanted “vengeance” for the downing of a Russian passenger plane in the Sinai.
Mr Putin said that France should be treated as an “ally” ahead of a meeting with Francois Hollande next week.
French authorities said they are searching for a second terrorist who is on the run after the Paris attacks.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, was yesterday forced to backtrack after suggesting that he was “not happy” with Britain’s “shoot to kill” policy in the event of a terror attack in this country.
The Ministry of Defence confirmed that a British drone helped French jets carry out deadly air strikes against Isil in Syria at the weekend.
Ministers also disclosed that on Monday RAF Tornados used laser-guided bombs to find and kill 30 Isil fighters massing for an attack against Kurdish forces in Iraq.
Britain has been unable to extend air strikes into Syria since Mr Cameron was defeated in 2013 when Tory rebels joined forces with Labour to vote down a plan to launch airstrikes against the Assad regime.
However public outrage at he terrorist attacks in Paris fuelled by concerns at the rise of Isil yesterday encouraged Mr Cameron to press the case again.
Francois Hollande, the French President, will next week travel to Washington to meet President Barack Obama before heading to Moscow to meet Mr Putin as he seeks to build the international coalition against Isil.
Sylvie Bermann, France’s ambassador to the UK, has said it would be “appreciated’ if the RAF carried out raids in Syria alongside the French.
Mr Cameron said: “The case for doing so has only grown stronger after the Paris attacks. We cannot expect, we should not expect, others to carry the burdens and risks of protecting our country.”
It came after France issued an unprecedented demand for its European Union allies to support its military action against Isis.
The French government invoked a never-before-used article of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty calling for other nations to offer “aid and assistance by all means in their power”.
Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French defence minister, said EU partners could help “either by taking part in France’s operations in Syria or Iraq or by easing the load or providing support for France in other operations”.
Last month the foreign affairs select committee set out seven key conditions which must be met if Britain is to extend air strikes into Syria, including winning the support of Iran and Saudi Arabia.
However Crispin Blunt, the chairman of the Foreign Affairs select committee, yesterday adopted a more conciliatory tone.
He said: “I think we’re beginning to work towards the kind of international plan that will mean we’ve got a military task that we can achieve.”
Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe, the head of the Metropolitan Police, yesterday warned that terrorists may be able to slip in to Europe hiding among refugees because of porous borders.
In the wake of the Paris attacks, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe said that Europe has a significant “problem because it has “millions of people wandering through” but only “limited control over the borders”.
He also revealed police and MI5 are now monitoring up to 4,000 extremists around the UK – a third higher than previous estimates.
The Royal United Services Institute, a respected military think tank, today says that the case for Britain joining strikes is ” in important respects, stronger” after the Paris attacks, with pressure building to “resolve this issue one way or another”.
It warns that any military campaign in the country “may have to be sustained over a period of several years” and that it is possible operations would end “without decisive strategic effect”.
However it argues strikes are still useful for protecting Kurdish enclaves and harrying Isil commanders in Raqqa.
Hilary Benn, the shadow foreign secretary, made clear he did not agree with Mr Corbyn while moderate Labour MPs used a series of questions in the Commons to criticise the Labour leader.
He yesterday said that the Prime Minister should not “feed a cycle of violence and hatred” with his response to the terror attacks.