UK can and should do more in IS fight, say MPs

A report by MPs finds the UK is contributing less than its partners and the British military lacks a strategy for defeating IS.

Britain can and should be doing more in the fight against Islamic State, a group of MPs has said.

A report by the Commons Defence Select Committee also found the UK is contributing less than its NATO partners and that the British military lacks a strategy for defeating IS, also known as ISIS.

The report comes after the father of a Jordanian pilot murdered by IS denounced the group as 'wild beasts'.

The committee's chairman, Rory Stewart, said: "The UK should be focused much more on Iraq. It should be a higher priority.

Defence Committee chairman Rory Stewart urges a focus on Iraq

"That doesn't mean combat troops on the ground. That means, to begin with, just understanding what is going on.

"That means putting military and civilian personnel on to the ground to start mapping who is the enemy, who are these people in ISIS or Da'ash?

"Who are our allies? How do we work with the Sunni tribes? How do we work with the neighbours? What is the US campaign plan? What is the Iraqi campaign plan?

"Once we answer those questions, and we need to answer them urgently, we're not going to begin to play a constructive role fighting ISIS."

Britain only has three military personnel stationed outside northern, Kurdish Iraq.

They have not yet made any specific pledges to send more. That number compares to 3,000 Americans, 300 Spanish personnel and 280 Italians.

Britain has so far contributed 40 heavy machine guns, but Germany is offering a vast arsenal of weapons, including 16,000 assault rifles, 10,000 hand grenades and 8,000 pistols.

RAF aircraft, confined to bombing Iraq and not Syria, have only contributed to 6% of the total strikes against Islamic State positions.

General Sir Richard Shirreff, former deputy supreme commander of NATO forces, is unimpressed with the UK effort, considering it is one of the P5 - permanent members of the United Nations Security Council.

He said: "What we need to see from our political leaders is leadership and a preparedness to say, 'This isn't going to be easy, this isn't going to go away, this does affect us dramatically and domestically and internationally'.

"We have a role to play, we have responsibilities as a member of the P5, we have responsibilities in the area, we have history in the area, we have an understanding of the area and we need to be prepared to put our shoulder to the wheel."

The committee emphasised it was not calling for British combat troops to be deployed but saw a need for a strategy which is currently absent.

It also said it was "shocked  by the inability or unwillingness of any of the service chiefs to provide a clear and articulate statement of the UK's objectives or strategic plan in Iraq".

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