Britain has officially voted to bomb ISIS and has launched an airstrike in Syria. The launch came just hours after a 10-hour debate in which UK lawmakers and government officials argued whether or not they should take action.
They deployed four jets, which took off from the Akrotiri air base in Cyprus. The main target was an ISIS-operated oil field in Eastern Syria. Britain is part of a U.S.-led coalition that has sent airstrikes to ISIS before, but this would be the first airstrike order meant for Syria. All airstrikes in the past have flown to Iraq.
“RAF Tornadoes have just returned from their first offensive operation over Syria and have conducted strikes,” a spokesman for Britain’s Ministry of Defense (MOD) said early Thursday to CNN.
They have not given more details than that, but more information is expected later in the day. Details about the vote to bomb ISIS itself showed a large majority in favor of action, with 397 voting yes and 223 voting against.
Military defenses have been at the ready ever since the November 13 terrorist bombings in Paris, and governments in the United Nations have been discussing for several weeks about whether or not they should retaliate.
If Germany had their way, they would send 1,200 troops to Syria in an effort to show more force in the fight. The troops would play a support role, not direct combat. If passed, this movement is meant to show a greater military commitment from the United Nations against ISIS.
The decision to send airstrikes to Syria was not one to be taken lightly. The 10-hour debate opened with Prime Minister David Cameron outlining the major threat ISIS is to British citizens, as evidenced by the beheadings of hostages in the Middle East.
“Do we work with our allies to degrade and destroy this threat and do we go after these terrorists in their heartlands from where they are plotting to kill British people, or do we sit back and wait for them to attack us?” Cameron questioned the House of Commons. “This is not about whether we want to fight terrorism. It’s about how best we do that.”
British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond echoed Cameron’s sympathies, telling CNN, “This is the right thing to do to keep Britain safe, to deal with this evil organization and as part of a process to bring peace and stability to Syria.”
However, not everyone in Parliament agreed with these two men. A third of those who voted were not ready to take action just yet. As a major supporter of the decision to wait it out, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Opposition and the Labour Party, requested that Cameron explain “how British bombing in Syria will contribute to a comprehensive, negotiated, political settlement of the Syrian war.”
In addition, Corbyn stated that the decision to send bombs “one with potentially far-reaching consequences for us all, here in Britain, people in Syria and those in Middle East.”
Corbyn later tweeted his disappointment shortly after the debate, stating, “British service men and women will now be in harm’s way and the loss of innocent lives is sadly almost inevitable.”
This came in combination with a Facebook message detailing his opinion on the matter.
There was also a moment in the debate when Cameron alluded that those who opposed the decision to bomb ISIS were “terrorist sympathizers.” It didn’t take long for Corbyn to mock that statement and call for an apology.
He tweeted a photo of bombing protesters with the caption, “In 7 days 5 million Brits change their minds on Syrian airstrikes. Concerned citizens or terrorist sympathisers?”
Even though Corbyn was obviously against the strikes, 66 of his Labour MPs decided to vote for the Syrian air strike.
Despite Corbyn’s protests, the vote is over. Britain’s Parliament published an official vote to bomb ISIS, and the airstrikes to Syria are already deployed.
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