Richard Benyon: Military intervention in Syria

As a Member of Parliament from what you could call the post-Iraq generation, I am naturally cautious, even sceptical about any military intervention. However, on this occasion I have to say that the Prime Minister made a very compelling case in his statement to the House of Commons on 26th November.

Airpower alone does not win wars but it has been successful in stopping ISIL/Daesh operating in mass formations across territory it controls. The air campaign has diminished ISIL/Daesh's ability to command and control its forces and it has certainly prevented it occupying more ground than it has hitherto seized. The main question for me is that if it is wrong for Britain to take part in the air campaign it is presumably wrong for France, the USA and others to do so as well. In those circumstances ISIL/Daesh would have been able to operate with impunity across the areas it holds. It would have been able to exercise clear command and control of its forces and move forces around in mass formations at will. It would have undoubtedly seized more ground and would have presented a much more favourable sanctuary for radicalised people from countries like the UK. So, given the ability of an air campaign to degrade and diminish such an enemy, I think the Prime Minister makes a very good point when he says we cannot and should not sub-contract our security to our allies.

We are at last seeing the possibility of a diplomatic process underway that could in time make progress. The Vienna talks brought together governments from the region, Kurdish and other forces ranged against ISIL/Daesh in Syria, Britain, Russia, the USA and France. So the ongoing military operation against ISIL/Daesh in Iraq and Syria, which never could win on its own, is now matched by a diplomatic and political process running in parallel. There is a strategy which sees the continued use of air power as a part of a much wider political and diplomatic strategy. We now have a unanimous UN Security Council resolution calling for "all necessary means" to remove this haven for terror.

The final reason I have come to the view that I will vote with MPs on all sides of the House to support the Government, is this. Britain has weapon systems like the Brimstone missile which is admired by our allies and feared by our enemies. It allows for precision attacks that limit collateral damage. In Iraq there have been no reported incidents when this weapon or similar ones used by the RAF have resulted in civilian casualties. Our allies need this technology and want us to help.  I believe we should agree to take part in a wider campaign against an enemy that means us harm right here in the United Kingdom.

I have the firm belief that in this vote I will be taking an action that will help protect people here in the United Kingdom including the thousands of my constituents who travel every day to London. We know of at least seven attacks that have been thwarted by our security services this year. We need to play a part with others such as the Free Syrian Army or like us just providing air support. We all need to destroy an enemy willing to use medieval barbarity against Muslims, Christians, aid workers and other innocent people in Syria and of course in Europe too.