The extension of offensive British military operations to Syria Contents

Conclusions and recommendations

Possible diplomatic, political and military risks of extending airstrikes into Syria

1.Though difficult, this requirement for agreement makes a UN Security Council Resolution desirable for more than simply legal reasons, as it would require negotiation between all parties and compromise to achieve an agreed response. (Paragraph 19)

Conclusion: A coherent strategy?

2.We believe that there should be no extension of British military action into Syria unless there is a coherent international strategy that has a realistic chance of defeating ISIL and of ending the civil war in Syria. In the absence of such a strategy, taking action to meet the desire to do something is still incoherent. (Paragraph 33)

3.We consider that the focus on the extension of airstrikes against ISIL in Syria is a distraction from the much bigger and more important task of finding a resolution to the conflict in Syria and thereby removing one of the main facilitators of ISIL’s rise. (Paragraph 34)

4.We are not persuaded that talks involving all parties would be any more of an incentive for people to join ISIL than allowing the continuation of the chaos and conflict. (Paragraph 34)

Enabling the House to reach a decision

5.The Government should explain the following points before asking the House of Commons to approve a substantive motion authorising military action:

a)On an international strategy:

i)How the proposal would improve the chances of success of the international coalition’s campaign against ISIL;

ii)How the proposed action would contribute to the formation and agreement of a transition plan for Syria;

iii)In the absence of a UN Security Council Resolution, how the Government would address the political, legal, and military risks arising from not having such a resolution;

iv)Whether the proposed action has the agreement of the key regional players (Turkey; Iran; Saudi Arabia; Iraq); if not, whether the Government will seek this before any intervention;

v)Which ground forces will take, hold, and administer territories captured from ISIL in Syria.

b)On the military imperative:

i)What the overall objective is of the military campaign; whether it expects that it will be a “war-winning” campaign; if so, who would provide war-winning capabilities for the forces; and what the Government expects will be the result of extending airstrikes to Syria.

ii)What extra capacity the UK would contribute to the Coalition’s actions in Syria. (Paragraph 35)

6.We are persuaded that it is not yet possible for the Government to give a satisfactory explanation on the points listed above. Until it is possible for the Government to address these points we recommend that it does not bring to the House a motion seeking the extension of British military action to Syria. (Paragraph 36)

© Parliamentary copyright 2015

Prepared 2 November 2015