Tony Blair has welcomed Parliament's decision to authorise RAF air strikes against Islamic State (Isis) in Syria. The former prime minister said the House of Commons vote was an "important" decision to confront a security threat that was "within our home".
RAF Tornado jets conducted strikes against six targets close to Syria's eastern border with Iraq on 3 December, hours after MPs voted 397-223 to authorise military action in the country. Blair said European states had to take the lead in combat operations against IS, but warned that defeating the jihadist group was "only a necessary beginning".
"For Europe, there is a huge calculation to be made. This security threat is at our door. It is actually within our home," he was quoted as saying by the Guardian newspaper at the Library of Congress in Washington.
"We have a paramount interest in defeating it, which is why last night's vote in the British House of Commons was so important.
"Europe has to create, within its nation states, the armed force capability to allow us not just to play our part but to lead."
Blair said defeating IS in Syria, Iraq, Libya and parts of sub-Saharan Africa was only the beginning of a wider strategy that included confronting Islamist ideology, claiming that a large number of Muslims had sympathy for extremist views.
"Those who believe in concepts of the caliphate and the apocalypse – so much part of Daesh (IS) propaganda – stretch deep into parts of Muslim societies," Blair asserted.
"A belief in innate hostility between Islam and the West is not the preserve of the few."
The former PM warned that a continued failure to recognise this reality would lead to more terror attacks like the one in Paris in November.
He added: "Of course a large majority of Muslims completely reject Daesh-like jihadism and the terrorism which comes with it.
"However, in many Muslim countries large numbers also believe that the CIA or Jews were behind 9/11. Clerics who proclaim that non-believers and apostates must be killed or call for jihad against Jews have Twitter followings running into millions... the ideology has deep roots.
"We have to reach right the way down and uproot it."