New report on UK operations in Syria and Iraq calls for better strategy to fight ISIS

20 September 2016 (Last Updated September 20th, 2016 18:30)

A new Defence Committee report on UK military operations in Syria and Iraq has highlighted the need for a better strategy and transparency in the fight against ISIS.

A new Defence Committee report on UK military operations in Syria and Iraq has highlighted the need for a better strategy and transparency in the fight against ISIS.

Figures show that UK military personnel have conducted 550 airstrikes in Iraq and 65 in Syria since December 2015.

The report also revealed that a minority of the 65 UK air strikes in Syria appear to be in support of opposition forces on the ground.

It evaluates Syrian opposition groups identified by the UK Government as partners on the ground, as well as the resultant difficulties of a military campaign based predominantly on air power.

The committee report raised questions about whether the government's policy is sufficiently integrated with the International Coalition's strategy, and whether the current plan can address the changing nature of the conflict in the Middle East.

"Whilst substantial progress in eliminating ISIS is clearly being achieved in Iraq, the situation in Syria is far more complex."

Defence Committee chair person Dr Julian Lewis: "Whilst substantial progress in eliminating ISIS is clearly being achieved in Iraq, the situation in Syria is far more complex.

“Assuming ISIS is squeezed out of both countries, we have to focus too on what happens next—both in other countries to which ISIS may migrate, and in Syria especially where there is no shortage of other Islamist groups, just as dangerous, which are planning to take control."

The committee welcomed the latest achievements in the fight against ISIS, which included the recapture of land from the terrorist group and the UK's military training efforts in Iraq.

However, it called for a better strategy as ISIS may transform into an international movement or a network of affiliates in the future.

According to the committee, the Coalition's current strategy to counter ISIS is not sufficient as it primarily focuses on Iraq and Syria and relies on the removal of territory from the terrorist group.


Image: The UK military personnel have conducted 550 airstrikes in Iraq and 65 in Syria since December 2015. Photo: courtesy of parliament.uk.