UK lawmakers urge govt to step up ISIS fight

Defense Committee says Britain has carried out less than one air strike a day on average

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Britain’s Defense Select Committee urged the government on Thursday to step up the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and provide additional support to the Iraqi forces.

The committee said it was shocked that British service chiefs failed to set out a clear definition of Britain's role in Iraq when they were interviewed, the Associated Press reported. It described Britain’s role the military campaign against ISIS to be “strikingly modest,” despite its engagement in Iraq from 2003 to 2007 and expertise on the country.

While the committee did not call for deploying troops on the ground, it urged the government to do more to train the Iraqi forces and provide Iraq and with political and intelligence support.

It found that the Royal Air Force carried out less than one air strike a day on average in Iraq, it found.

“We are surprised and deeply concerned that the U.K. is not doing more,” the committee said in a report. “The U.K. military is still one of the largest and most capable forces in the world and its experience of Iraq is second only to that of the United States.”

Suppressing ISIS more realistic

The committee of British lawmakers also indicated that containing ISIS may be a more realistic strategy than defeating it.

“There is a significant gap between the rhetoric of Britain and its partners, and the reality of the campaign on the ground ... It will be very difficult to destroy DAESH,” the report said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIS.

“Given the deep polarization and structural weaknesses of the Iraqi state, we wonder whether containment and suppression of DAESH would not be a more realistic goal than total elimination.”

The lawmakers, who visited Iraq in December, said there were just three British military personnel in the country outside the Kurdish regions, compared to 400 Australians and 300 Spanish troops.

Britain has so far not contributed to air strikes in Syria. The report said Britain's policy of carrying out air strikes in Iraq but not in Syria was “clearly an issue” because the Islamic State group operates across borders, and said the government should be careful to explain the logic of the restriction.

(With Associated Press)

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