By Elizabeth Doherty
BRITAIN is expected to send RAF fighter planes across Syrian skies this morning – despite massive public opposition and no evidence to state this action.
Last night as the UK Government won a 174 majority in the House of Commons to carry out air strikes over Syria – to apparently target ISIS – thousands gathered outside Parliament to hold a “die” in.
The anti-war movement, that is gathering pace across the UK and Ireland – voiced a very strong ‘no’ to military action – as comparisons were drawn between Britain going to war in Iraq without evidence of any obligation to do so.
While Tony Blair’s infamous Weapons of Mass Destruction, claim was “misrepresented” according to UN weapons inspector, Hans Blix, as intelligence, to go to war in Iraq in 2003 – questions were being raised about David Cameron too.
The Prime Minister claimed that “moderate” 70,000 rebels were on the ground waiting to fight against ISIS to complement UK involvement in the air – but again there was no evidence last night that these fighters back the UK or the coalition.
What is clear is that rebels are disorganised and many are fighting Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian army. And ironically only two years ago Cameron tried to gain a vote to bomb Syria against Assad, the Syrian president, but failed.
It seems clear Cameron is very intrigued by bombing Syria – but his enemy has changed in just two years. While there is no official and fully-backed figure to state how many ISIS members are based in Syria.
The November 13 atrocity carried out in Paris has been used by the UK Government and the U.S, to condone military action over Syrian skies.
But again, there was no evidence that any of the Parisian terrorists were from Syria. They were from France and Belgium.
One thing is clear though today, the claims of “precision bombing,” made during the Iraq war did not work then – and it is not known how such a claim could be made now either, when apparent ISIS targets are based in civilian mainstays.
While ISIS are also reported to be based among the innocent Syrian population. Therefore there was no evidence to state how bombs could be precise enough to exercise the ghosts of Iraq.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had opposed the strikes and voted against the decision.
Seven Tory rebels voted no, and the majority of the shadow cabinet supported Corbyn, with 16 against and, 11 for air strikes.
The eight RAF Tornado aircraft based in Cyprus, could be directed immediately this morning and used to carry out this so-called precise bombing.
The impact upon Syrian civilians is in all reality likely to be devastating – while it is not known how air strikes will target individual ISIS fighters – who have reportedly built tunnels.
Diane Abbot, Labour’s shadow international development secretary, a key Corbyn ally, said last night: Ever since Paris, there’s been a drumbeat for war….I think that public opinion very soon will tire of Cameron’s war.
Frankly this has been a tragic vote and what we should be thinking about tonight is the people of Raqqa when those bombers fly over them in the next 24 hours.
“The majority of party members and MPs supported Jeremy’s position. What’s difficult for me is journalists want to make this about a Labour split, rather than a tragic decision tonight.
“Jeremy deliberately allowed a free vote to allow people to voice their opinion. There will be no question of anyone being punished or marginalised because of the way they voted tonight.”
MP John Baron, one of the Tory rebels who voted no to air strikes, against his leader, tabled the no vote.
Mr Baron said he had “real concerns” about the “absence of strategy in place” to answer the ISIS problem – and that there was no exit strategy from conflict.
Similarly, Blair did not have an exit strategy for Iraq and that conflict rumbled on until 2010 – and is believed to have spawned even greater fundamentalism.
“The task of Government is to put this strategy in place and I am not sure they have that,” Mr Baron said.
“Only history will tell.”
But the ghosts of Iraq remain in the air today and true lessons have still not been learnt from that conflict.
The Chilcot report, which will detail UK involvement in Iraq and Blair’s role in pushing for that conflict – will not be released until the summer of 2016, after several delays.
Mr Baron said: “Numbers alone doesn’t mean the right decision has been made. If you look at our previous errors one common denominator is a lack of a strategic exit and lack of local knowledge.”
The Iraq war claimed anything between 151,000 up to more than 1 million Iraqis lives.
173 British soldiers died in that conflict. While 453 died in Afghanistan. Around 75,000 were left sick or injured in both wars.
Charity Help for Heroes estimates more than one in four who served in the conflicts could have been affected.
During his speech against military action, Corbyn told the House of Commons: “There is no doubt that the so-called Islamic state group has imposed a reign of sectarian and inhuman terror in Iraq, Syria and Libya. And there is no question that it also poses a threat to our own people.
The issue is now whether extending UK bombing from Iraq to Syria is likely to reduce, or increase, that threat in Britain – and whether it will counter, or spread, the terror campaign Isil is waging across the Middle East.
The answers don’t make the case for the government’s motion. On the contrary, they are a warning to step back and vote against yet another ill-fated twist in the never-ending war on terror.
And it seems that once again, with little proof of the UK’s need to join the U.S in conflict, it has done so against rising public opposition.
The latest YouGov poll showed that only 48 per cent of the British public backed Syrian air strikes.
Regardless of this fact and lack of evidence for conflict, David Cameron asked his party and Labour rebels to join him and vote against “Jeremy Corbyn and a bunch of terrorist sympathisers,” before the vote.
It appeared the Prime Minister was labelling a sample of more than half of his electorate with this offensive title.
The hashtag #prayforsyria was trending across Twitter last night as the sympathisers united and a movement began to increase.
While disturbing photographs of dead children, reportedly taken in Syria, were also circulated across Twitter and Facebook.