Cameron calls for vote on Syria strikes amid Labour split

LONDON • Britain looks poised to join air strikes in Syria against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) after Prime Minister David Cameron announced that a vote would be held in Parliament today.

The announcement came after the main opposition Labour party decided to let its MPs vote with their conscience rather than trying to force them to oppose military action, meaning Mr Cameron is set to get the clear majority he wanted.

But Labour was left looking deeply split on the issue after its left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn confirmed he would vote against air strikes, while a string of other centrist MPs said they would support them.

"We will make sure that we have a very long and full debate on Wednesday," Mr Cameron said in a televised statement.

He has wanted Britain to extend its operations against ISIS in Iraq to Syria for months but held back because he would not have been able to gain support from Parliament due to Labour opposition.

Extra planes are expected to be sent to Cyprus as Britain prepares to go to war with ISIS, reported Independent newspaper.

Eight Tornado fighter jets are already at the Royal Air Force Akrotiri station, where they have been launching flights since Britain's bombing mission against ISIS in Iraq started in September last year. The number of aircraft is expected to double if Mr Cameron's proposals are approved today.

Meanwhile, the German Cabinet yesterday approved a mandate offering military assistance to back the fight against ISIS.

The package, which requires parliamentary approval, covers Tornado reconnaissance jets, a naval frigate and up to 1,200 troops, following a request from France in the wake of the terror attacks last month.

The mandate is for one year at a cost of €134 million (S$200 million) and can be extended next year. The Bundestag Lower House of Parliament will hold a vote on it today.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 02, 2015, with the headline 'Cameron calls for vote on Syria strikes amid Labour split'. Print Edition | Subscribe