David Cameron is to publish the UK's strategy for military action against Islamic State (Isis) in Syria, after the UN Security Council unanimously voted in favour of using all means necessary to defeat the jihadist group. The prime minister is to push for MPs to support extending UK air strikes to IS targets in Syria ahead of a Commons vote.
Senior Downing Street sources told the Sunday Times that the seven-point plan will be published by Thursday, and will outline the legal justification for bombing IS targets in Syria, describe the UK's military capacity for targeting the militants, and outline a peace plan for Syria.
It comes after the Commons Foreign Affairs Select Committee opposed air strikes in Syria, in the absence of a concerted international strategy to defeat the group. On Friday, a French motion in the United Nations calling for UN member states to use "all necessary means" to defeat IS was passed.
Cameron's chief whip, Mark Harper, will attempt to persuade MPs across all parties on the necessity of air strikes against Isis in Syria. If the motion is backed by the Commons, bombing raids could start before Christmas, the Times reported.
Osborne warns of Isis publicity coup
Chancellor George Osborne, speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr show today, said that the government would not put the motion to vote in the Commons, unless it was confident of the support of MPs. In 2013, a government motion for air strikes against the Assad regime in Syria was defeated. MPs subsequently backed a motion for air strikes against IS targets in Iraq.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn opposes the use of air strikes against Syria, but is under pressure to allow a free vote on the issue, with many Labour MPs in favour of extending the UK's air campaign against IS.
Corbyn has said that he would support "every necessary measure" to protect people in the UK, but stressed it was "vital" in a time of tragedy following the Paris attacks "not to be drawn into responses that feed a cycle of violence".
The prime minister is expected to tell MPs behind closed doors that the UK should start acting like "[Winston] Churchill not [Neville] Chamberlain" to defeat terrorism, comparing Jeremy Corbyn's opposition to military action against IS militants to the appeasement of the Nazis.
Ground troops won't fight Isis
The government's plans do not include the use of UK ground troops in Syria, however writing in the Telegraph, former defence secretary Liam Fox said that UK ground forces may be necessary to drive IS out of the territory it holds in Syria and Iraq.
"We may still require an international coalition on the ground, similar to that which forced Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, if we are to rid ourselves of the Isil scourge," he wrote.
The Foreign Affairs Committee report will be published shortly after Cameron sets out his strategy next week. According to the BBC, the report will say: "there should be no extension of British military action into Syria unless there is a coherent international strategy that has a realistic chance of defeating Isil (Isis)".
On Monday, 23 November, Cameron will meet French President François Hollande to discuss the campaign against IS, in the wake of terror attacks in Paris in which 130 people were killed.
Europe has been in a heightened state of alert over the potential of further terror attacks. Brussels, the home of at least four of the Paris attackers, was placed in lockdown this weekend after security forces said that they had details of an imminent terrorist attack. Residents and tourists were told to avoid shopping centres, concerts and other places with large crowds.