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IS Fighters Smuggled Into Syria For Just £15

Written By andika jamanta on Senin, 29 September 2014 | 18.26

By Sherine Tadros, Middle East Correspondent

For tens of thousands of Syrians, the Kilis border crossing is the official way in and out of Turkey from Syria.

But if you're an Islamic State fighter, Kilis is not an option.

Abu Mustafa (not his real name) is a Syrian people smuggler. He says he's helped hundreds of IS fighters get into Syria.

He's also brought militants - some of them injured - back out.

He took us to the spot where the smuggling happens several times a day, he says, and it didn't take long to see it in action.  

We waited on the side of the road barely 10 minutes before we saw a white car speed across the open field towards the border.

Southern Turkey VT Tadros The Kilis border crossing is the official way into Syria from Turkey

The car stopped halfway there and six men got out each holding a big bag. The car sped off and the men headed towards the fence.

We couldn't tell if they were fighters or Syrians without passports, but they were illegally crossing into Syria.

Moments later, more people appeared at the border. It looked like a family including a woman and child.

This time the military police saw them and chased one man, possibly the smuggler, along the fence. 

And the reward for taking such a risk? Abu Mustafa charges just £15 per fighter.

He said: "Last time they caught three people there were seven in total trying to get across among them Turks and Arabs.

People smuggler Abu Mustafa (not his real name) talks to Sky News A people smuggler talks to Sky's Sherine Tadros

"But the three that got caught were foreigners. They spoke English and the police took them away.

"They often cross with their families - their wives and children. They tell us we're coming to fight with Islamic State and live there.

"Some of them don't even know where exactly they're going, they just say, we are going to the Islamic State."

It's a common story. Abu Ahmed fought with IS for 10 months in northwestern Syria.

We met him in Turkey where he agreed to speak with us as long as we covered his face and changed his name.

He joined IS at the start because they were the most effective force fighting Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

But when they turned against the Free Syrian Army (FSA) he left the group.

He explained why so many foreign fighters join the group.

"They go to Syria to be martyred, they say their former lives are over and there is no going back. Most of them rip up and throw away their passports when they arrive."

Abu Ahmed also thinks US-led airstrikes against IS are backfiring, bringing extremist groups closer together.

"After the recent strikes, more fighters are joining IS - like the Nusra Front. I know some of them who have joined," he said.

Abu Ahmed doesn't have much hope for Syria's future, or his own.

He thinks the situation is out of hand and too many players have a vested interest in keeping the war going.

"What will happen next?" he said. "Only God knows."

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Lloyds Bank Sacks Eight And Stops £3m Bonuses

Lloyds Banking Group has sacked eight staff and forfeited their bonuses of £3m, over Libor and currency manipulation attempts.

The staff members of the taxpayer-backed bank were found guilty of misconduct for actions between 2006 and 2009.

The findings come following investigation by UK and US regulators over manipulation attempts for the interbank lending rate, and the currency fixing known as the Sterling Repo rate.

Lloyds Banking Group CEO Antonio Horta-Osorio said: "Having now taken disciplinary action against those individuals responsible for the totally unacceptable behaviour identified by the regulators' investigations, the board and the group's management team are committed to preventing this type of behaviour happening again."

"A number of individuals have been dismissed. In addition, the Remuneration Committee is tasked with ensuring that the outcome of the disciplinary process and the significant reputational damage and financial cost to the group are fully and fairly reflected in the options considered in relation to other staff bonus payments."

Sources have told Sky News the bonus-cutting - averaging £375,00 per employee - was part of new rules over so-called clawback.

The purpose of clawing back bonus and other incentives from previous years it to dissuade bankers from reckless behaviour, if they are found liable at a later date.

The unnamed Lloyds staff now have the right to appeal the decision, in accordance with Lloyds's disciplinary policies and procedures.

Sky News City Editor Mark Kleinman revealed in February that Royal Bank of Scotland - 81% owned by the taxpayer - was eyeing up to £100m in staff bonus claw back over Libor at its investment bank.

Lloyds admitted it was unable to take any disciplinary action against a number of other staff members who left the group prior to the settlements with regulators in July.

The UK's Financial Conduct Authority fined Lloyds £105m, and it was also heavily fined by US regulators, with the overall penalty coming to £218m.

Chancellor George Osborne said the Libor fine for Lloyds would go to military good causes.

Royal Bank of Scotland was fined £390m manipulating benchmark rates in February last year, and there have been a number of other banks, including Barclays, UBS, Deutsche and JPMorgan.

Barclays was the first bank to settle with regulators for manipulating Libor submissions, paying £290m in June 2012.

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Osborne: 'Raise The Ambition Of The Nation'

George Osborne has told the Tory conference it is time to "raise the ambition of the nation so everyone has the chance to succeed".

The Chancellor said the Government's "long-term economic plan is working" and that Britain had done what it always did to recover from the economic crisis four years ago: "picked ourselves up, we sorted ourselves out and we got back in the fight"

He said it was not time to finish the job that had been started and added that the country had achieved the result "together" and warned a Labour Government would push Britain back into the past and the economic crisis of recent years.

In a dig at the Labour leader's speech last week he said Ed Miliband made a "speech that was so forgettable, he forgot most of it". Mr Miliband admitted he left out a passage on the deficit when he delivered his keynote speech without notes in Manchester at the party's conference. 

The Chancellor also challenged Labour's claims to being the only party of the NHS saying "the real party of the NHS is in this hall today".

Mr Osborne said the party would "ruin" the NHS because the health service could not exist without a healthy economy.

He said Britain faced a number of choices but most immediately it was time to chose between the past and the future.

Mr Osborne said he has spoken to Conservative delegate who had lost his job in the Northern Rock crisis who had told him Britain should never return to such a time of risk adding the Conservatives did not want to go back either.

He said the deficit is approaching half what it was when the Conservatives come to office but cautioned there was more to be done. But he added: "The option of taxing your way out of the deficit no longer exists, if it ever did."

At the centre of Mr Osborne's speech is scrapping the so-called "death tax" on pension pots with immediate effect. It will mean those who have saved into their pensions will no longer pay the 55% tax if they wish to pass the money to their families.

Speaking to Sky News ahead of his speech, Mr Osborne said the move was a reward for those who "worked and saved".

The Chancellor's speech is largely being seen as an attempt to seize back ground made by UKIP and to steady the ship after two Conservative defections and the resignation of the Minister for Civil Society over a sex pictures scandal at the weekend.

The "death tax" cut will cost the Treasury a estimated £150m - the equivalent of just a 0.03p cut in income tax - but it will appeal to older voters who are more likely to be swayed by Nigel Farage's party.

However, it has emerged Mr Osborne had been the one to increase the tax from 35% to 55% and had already suggested it in the Autumn Statement.

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Japan Volcano: More Than 30 Hikers Feared Dead

Written By andika jamanta on Minggu, 28 September 2014 | 18.25

More than 30 hikers are believed to have died near the peak of an erupting volcano in Japan.

Police said they were found unconscious and in cardiac arrest near the summit of the 3,067 metre (10,121ft) Mount Ontake, which erupted on Saturday, spewing large white plumes of gas and ash high into the sky and blanketing the surrounding area in ash.

Video footage posted online of the aftermath of the eruption shows huge grey clouds boiling towards climbers at the peak and people scrambling to get down as blackness envelops them.

JAPAN-VOLCANO Hundreds of rescue workers are trying to reach those who are stranded

Footage on NHK national television shows windows in a mountain lodge darkening and people screaming as heavy objects pelt the roof.

"We have confirmed that more than 30 individuals in cardiac arrest have been found near the summit," a Nagano prefecture police spokesman told the AFP news agency, without elaborating further.

Nagano prefecture posted on its website that those found have heart and lung failure - the customary way for Japanese authorities to describe a body until police doctors can examine it.

JAPAN-VOLCANO The mountain is popular with tourists and hikers

Hundreds of soldiers, police officers and firefighters have been involved in a large-scale search and rescue operation in an effort to save dozens of hikers who were thought to have been stranded on the volcano since it erupted without warning.

At least 250 people were initially trapped, but most made their way down by Saturday night. More than 40 people have been injured, and several have broken bones.

A suffocating blanket of ash up to 20cm (eight inches) thick covered a large area of the volcano, which is some 200km (125 miles) west of the capital, Tokyo.

JAPAN-VOLCANO Climbers come down the mountain after the eruption

The volcano was still erupting on Sunday, pouring smoke and ash hundreds of metres into the sky.

Ash has been found on cars as far as 80km (50 miles) away.

Although details remain unclear, local officials believe 45 to 49 hikers sheltered overnight in cabins on the mountain, which is popular with tourists and hikers.

Military helicopters rescued seven people off the mountainside earlier on Sunday, and workers on foot are helping others to make their way down.

JAPAN-VOLCANO A restricted zone has been set up in the area

A worker in a mountain lodge just below the peak, Shuichi Mukai, said: "All of a sudden ash piled up so quickly that we couldn't even open the door.

"We were really packed in here, maybe 150 people. There were some children crying, but most people were calm. We waited there in hard hats until they told us it was safe to come down."

Mount Ontake sits on the border of Nagano and Gifu prefectures, on the main Japanese island of Honshu.

The volcano's last major eruption was in 1979.

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Sex Scandal And Defection Hit Tory Conference

The Conservatives have been dealt a devastating double blow after a minister quit over a sex scandal and another party MP announced he was defecting to UKIP.

Cabinet Office minister Brooks Newmark resigned after reportedly sending explicit pictures of himself online to an undercover tabloid newspaper reporter.

His announcement came just hours after Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless declared he was joining UKIP leader Nigel Farage's "people's army".

Watch William Hague's speech at the Conservative Party conference live on Sky News.

He is the second Conservative to defect to UKIP within a month, joining Clacton MP Douglas Carswell.

Speaking on the BBC's The Andrew Marr show on Sunday, Prime Minister David Cameron said it was "counterproductive and senseless".

For the Tories arriving in Birmingham for their final party conference before the general election in May, there could hardly have been a worse start to the gathering.

Day Two - UKIP Holds Its Annual Party Conference Nigel Farage could not contain his delight at Mark Reckless's defection

Meanwhile, an opinion poll in the Sunday Mirror and Independent on Sunday suggests Mr Farage is more popular than the PM.

The setbacks overshadowed the announcement of plans for a new squeeze on benefits to fund millions of new apprenticeships.

Conservative Party annual conference 2014 Samantha Cameron and the PM arrive in Birmingham for the conference

According to the Sunday Mirror, Mr Newmark allegedly exchanged explicit pictures over the internet with a female reporter posing as a Tory PR worker.

The 56-year-old married father of five tendered his resignation after learning that the newspaper was about to publish details of their exchanges.

Fellow Conservative Nadine Dorries told Sky's Murnaghan programme she didn't think the claims are "that big a deal".

Downing Street said that Reading East MP Rob Wilson had been appointed the new Civil Society Minister.

Mr Reckless received an ecstatic reception from UKIP activists at their party conference in Doncaster after he declared he was leaving the Tories.

He accused the leadership of failing to keep its promises on Europe, the economy and immigration.

MP Brooks Newmark resigns Brooks Newmark resigned over claims he sent explicit photos

"People feel ignored, taken for granted, over-taxed, over-regulated, ripped off and lied to," he declared to rapturous applause.

He dismissed the PM's promise of an in/out EU referendum as a "device" designed to deliver the "pre-ordained" result in favour of Britain's continued membership.

There was deep anger in the Conservative ranks at Mr Reckless's move, with a party spokesman denouncing the defection as "completely illogical".

Douglas Carswell Mark Reckless was a close ally of fellow defector Douglas Carswell

Mr Reckless's constituency party chairman, Andrew Mackness, said that he was "astonished and disgusted" at the decision, and said he had been given assurances by Mr Reckless that he wouldn't defect.

Like Mr Carswell, Mr Reckless said that he would be standing down as an MP in order to fight the seat as a UKIP candidate in a by-election.

Although he took the Kent constituency with a majority of almost 10,000 at the last general election, he may face a tough battle to return to Westminster.

Conservative Party annual conference 2014 Samantha Cameron was all smiles as she arrived in Birmingham

In his last act as a Tory MP, Mr Reckless rebelled against the Government in the Commons vote on air strikes against Islamic State militants.

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps said: "Even late last night he was leaving voicemails with people saying how much he was looking forward to coming to a campaign day this Sunday here in Birmingham Northfield for one of our candidates.

"People will come to their own conclusions about whether this is therefore a trustworthy individual."

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'Nothing Token' About Britain's Iraq Mission

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has rejected claims Britain's role in the fight against Islamic State (IS) is a "token" gesture, as he confirmed RAF Tornados are now flying daily over northern Iraq.

He told Sky's Murnaghan programme the United States welcomes the contribution of six aircraft to the mission.

Mr Fallon said: "There's nothing token about this. On the contrary, I spoke to the American Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel immediately after the vote and he welcomed the contribution that we're now able to make.

Watch full coverage on Sky News.

"They need our help, not simply with the Tornados, which are now flying daily from Cyprus, but also from the surveyance aircraft that we have overhead and very sophisticated surveyance and intelligence to add to the operations of Iraqi and Kurdish forces."

His comments come after Richard Williams, a former commanding officer of the SAS who served in Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan, wrote in the Independent on Sunday the deployment of RAF bombers was a "military sugar rush" that "risks looking fearful and half-cocked".

Lieutenant Colonel Williams said the sending in of RAF bombers had "taken on a military and political significance out of all proportion to their real military value".

A map showing the location of RAF Akrotiri in relation to Iraq and Syria.

Lord Richards of Herstmonceux, a former head of the UK military who stepped down as chief of the defence staff last year, also told The Sunday Times that a campaign involving ground troops would be needed to crush IS.

The RAF carried out two sorties over Iraq on Saturday after Parliament cleared the way for airstrikes on IS militants in a vote on Friday.

In both missions the Tornado GR4 fighter bombers did not use their weapons, although the Ministry of Defence said "invaluable intelligence" had been gathered using the planes' surveillance equipment.

An RAF Tornado takes off from a base in Cyprus bound for Iraq. An RAF Tornado takes off from the Akrotiri base on Sunday

The jets, which fly in pairs, returned to their base at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus at the end of their hours-long missions with their weapons payload intact.

Sky's Tom Parmenter, who is at the base, says that two Tornados took off on another mission just after midday on Sunday.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said he also wants to make the case for targeting Syria.

Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 aircrew prepare to depart RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. Pic: MoD. RAF crew at the base on Saturday morning. Pic: MoD

In an interview with the Sunday Times, the Prime Minister revealed he would argue that targeting Syria is both legal and appropriate.

"There are complications but there aren't legal difficulties," he said.

Mr Cameron said he would respond to the challenge thrown down by Ed Miliband to seek a UN resolution supporting attacks in Syria, if only to show that his request is impossible.

Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 aircrew prepare to depart RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus. A member of the aircrew prepares to depart on the first mission. Pic: MoD

"We have to demonstrate to people that we'd like a UN security council resolution but it's very difficult to get one and to demonstrate that what we propose is legal. Attempts have been made but there's the existence of a Russian veto."

Ministers had cautioned not to expect a campaign of "shock and awe" and that after weeks of US airstrikes in the area it could take time to identify new targets.

Mr Cameron insisted the involvement of RAF combat aircraft showed Britain was there to "play our part" in the international coalition being assembled against IS.

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Iraq Vote Shows Britain's Changed World Role

Written By andika jamanta on Sabtu, 27 September 2014 | 18.25

By Faisal Islam, Political Editor

The RAF in Akrotiri, Cyprus, now know that they will soon be taking part in airstrikes against IS in northern Iraq.

MPs have voted overwhelmingly in favour of their deployment; 524 Yes and and 43 Noes in favour of the motion.

At first we expect just six Tornados - already being used for surveillance - to be armed and ready for action.

The result came after a creditable, statesmanlike day-long debate.

But there were some political casualties - Shadow Education Minister Rushanara Ali resigned from the front bench, and Iain McKenzie, an aide to Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker, was sacked, after abstaining and voting against the motion respectively.

Iraq MPs voted overwhelmingly for military action

In reality there were two debates. A tightly worded formal debate motion on Iraq, and a shadow debate on Syria.

The PM's personal view, expressed in this debate, was: It would be justified and legal to extend action into Syria. And, in a "humanitarian disaster", it might not require an advance parliamentary mandate.

This muddied the waters a little. Number 10 later clarified that this would have to be a "Benghazi" style imminent massacre.

Given that the US and allies are already bombing IS in Syria, it would hardly come as a surprise. But it did not affect the result in Parliament.

George Galloway speaks during the debate on airstrikes in Iraq. George Galloway was a dissenting voice

The main vote's thumping majority was by design.

The PM had sought the backing of Ed Miliband in a phone call from the UN in New York on Wednesday.

The motion was accordingly tightly drafted on tactics (no combat troops) and territory (Iraq only).

But it was not just a consequence of Labour caution, the Liberal Democrats too have been a break on this process.

For Labour's part, Mr Miliband suggested that it would be better to get a UN Mandate for any extension of action to Syria.

Back in the chamber the critiques ranged in from different directions: "The mission creep hasn't even waited until the end of the debate," said George Galloway.

Ken Clarke pointed out that the action was basically symbolic, and involved six planes.

Senior Tory backbenchers including Liam Fox and Andrew Mitchell called for a mandate for airstrikes in Syria.

All this debate, the publication of legal advice, and front bench Labour resignations for late entry to just a part of ongoing military action, that would occur regardless.

So the airstrikes start soon, but perhaps the real significance is the cementing of Britain's changed world role.

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Iraq: Islamic State Threat Is World's Problem

Iraq's deputy prime minister has told Sky News that it is the "duty of the world" to stand up against Islamic State extremists.

Saleh al Mutlaq also said he welcomed the UK parliament's decision to back airstrikes against the militants in his country.

He said IS was "not just the problem of Iraq. It is the problem of all countries".

Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Saleh al Mutlaq Iraq's deputy prime minister Saleh al Mutlaq speaks to Sky News

"Outsiders" from nations including Britain, Australia and the emirate countries were fighting for IS and the coalition aerial raids should target militias as well as the jihadist group, he said.

Mr al Mutlaq said: "It is an invitation for every country which can participate in this coalition to do what they can in order to get rid of IS forever.

"Iraq is now fighting on behalf of the world."

He added: "It's the duty of the world to stand against this danger which is coming, maybe now to Iraq, but it will separate everywhere if it is not going to be fixed in this country and ended."

And he said without also targeting militias who "facilitated the presence of IS" there would not be stability in Iraq.

The Sunni IS extremists have taken over large parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months and David Cameron said the group posed a direct threat to the UK.

RAF warplanes are poised to launch airstrikes against jihadists after Parliament on Friday gave the green light for military action in Iraq.

RAF Tornado GR4 fighter-bomber A RAF Tornado GR4

MPs voted by 524 to 43 - a majority of 481 - to endorse attacks on the insurgents in support of the US-led coalition, with Labour backing the Government motion.

Mr Cameron said the motion had been limited to Iraq in order to secure cross-party consensus.

And also to avoid a repeat of last year's damaging Commons defeat when Labour combined with Tory and Liberal Democrat rebels to block airstrikes against President Bashar Assad's regime in Syria.

The strikes, under Operation Shader, are expected to be carried out by six Tornado GR4s which have been based at RAF Akrotiri on Cyprus since last month where they have been deployed in a reconnaissance role.

Up to now, America and France have been conducting aerial strikes in Iraq in support of Iraqi forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, while the US and Arab allies have attacked IS targets from the air in Syria.

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RAF Jets Poised To Strike Jihadists In Iraq

British fighter jets could begin airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq as early as today after MPs overwhelmingly backed action.

Parliament gave approval by 524 votes to 43 (a massive majority of 481) for Britain to join the US-led coalition in the Middle East.

The vote came after Prime Minister David Cameron said IS forces are "psychopathic terrorists trying to kill us".

Watch full coverage on Sky News.

Labour MP Rushanara Ali immediately resigned from the party's front bench after the result was announced.

Labour leader Ed Miliband told her afterwards: "I know that you have thought long and hard about this. I respect and accept your resignation."

Ian McKenzie, the Labour MP for Inverclyde, was sacked as a parliamentary aide to Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker for voting against military action.

Britain has six Tornado GR4 fighter bombers in Cyprus ready to strike northern Iraq, a figure which Cabinet minister Kenneth Clarke said would make the UK's military contribution "almost symbolic".

A map showing the location of RAF Akrotiri in relation to Iraq and Syria.

Mr Cameron, speaking on a visit in Oxfordshire ahead of the Conservative Party conference, said Britain was ready to play its part in dealing with Islamic State (IS).

He said: "We are one part of a large international coalition. But the crucial part of that coalition is that it is led by the Iraqi government, the legitimate government of Iraq, and its security forces.

"We are there to play our part and help deal with this appalling terrorist organisation."

The planes, which have been in RAF Akrotiri for the past six weeks carrying out surveillance missions in the Middle East, could begin airstrikes over the weekend.

Parliament debates military action against IS Labour MP Rushanara Ali immediately resigned after the result was announced

Defence Minister Michael Fallon told Sky News: "You're not going to see immediate military action - a wave of shock and awe or anything like that ... not tonight no, absolutely not.

"We have to select our targets in accordance with the American and international effort that's going on in Iraq.

"There's fighting around these towns - we have to fit in to the day-to-day fighting and see where we can help best."

It came as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said US-led airstrikes had already worsened a dire humanitarian crisis in Iraq and Syria.


Mr Cameron told the Commons debate that Islamist militants "have already murdered one British hostage" and are "threatening the lives of two more".

He described IS, which has invaded large areas of Syria and Iraq, as "a terrorist organisation unlike those we have dealt with before".

He said: "The brutality is staggering - beheadings, crucifixions, the gouging out of eyes, the use of rape as a weapon, the slaughter of children. All of these things belong to the dark ages."

During the six-and-a-half-hour debate, Mr Miliband said he understood the deep unease about taking military action, but said the UK could not stand by in the face of the threat from IS, also known as ISIL.

Tornado GR4 Carrying Storm Shadow Missiles An RAF Tornado GR4 carrying Storm Shadow missiles

"ISIL is not simply a murderous organisation; it has ambitions for a state of its own - a caliphate across the Middle East, run according to their horrific norms and values," he said.

But in a typically firebrand intervention, outspoken Respect MP George Galloway said bombing would not work, and stressed the need to strengthen ground forces in the region.

He said: "ISIL is a death cult, it's a gang of terrorist murderers. It's not an army and it's certainly not an army that's going to be destroyed by aerial bombardment."

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, backed UK airstrikes, telling the House of Lords: "The action proposed today is right."

Some of the locations in Syria hit by US airstrikes so far. Some of the locations in Syria hit by US airstrikes

But he warned "we must not rely on a short-term solution" and a wider effort was needed to turn extremists away from the "evil of ISIL".

On Thursday, the Cabinet unanimously backed military action against IS, which could last up to three years.

The PM was desperate to avoid the embarrassment of the Commons defeat on Syria airstrikes last year, and tabled a cautiously-worded motion intended to win support from all parties for action in Iraq.

Overnight, the US continued to hit suspected IS positions in Syria for a fifth consecutive day of attacks.

The Pentagon said the raids had disrupted lucrative oil-pumping operations that have helped fund IS militants, but that a final victory would need an on-the-ground campaign.

:: Watch full coverage on Sky News - Sky 501, Virgin Media 602, Freesat 202, Freeview 132

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Iraq Airstrikes: MPs Start Debating IS Raids

Written By andika jamanta on Jumat, 26 September 2014 | 18.26

Islamic State are "psycopathic terrorists trying to kill us", said David Cameron as he argued the case for airstrikes in Iraq.

The Prime Minister, seeking to rally support among MPs at Westminster for bombing raids against the Islamist extremists, said the terror group, also known as ISIL, had "already declared war on us".

He told the Commons debate Islamic State "has already murdered one British hostage and is threatening the lives of two more".

A formation of U.S. Navy F-18E Super Hornets leaves after receiving fuel from a KC-135 Stratotanker over northern Iraq The US has already been carrying out raids against IS in Iraq and Syria

Mr Cameron described IS as "a terrorist organisation unlike those we have dealt with before".

He said: "The brutality is staggering - beheadings, crucifixions, the gauging out of eyes, the use of rape as a weapon, the slaughter of children. All of these things belong to the dark ages.

"This is not a threat on the far side of the world. Left unchecked we will face a terrorist caliphate on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member with a declared and a proven determination to attack our country and our people.

"This is not the stuff of fantasy - it is happening in front of us and we need to face up to it."

A member loyal to the ISIL waves an ISIL flag in Raqqa, Syria IS militants have been branded 'psycopathic terrorists' by the PM

The PM said the shadow of the 2003 decision to join the US-led invasion of Iraq "hangs heavy" over the vote, but told MPs: "We must not use past mistakes as an excuse for indifference or inaction."

Labour leader Ed Miliband said he understood the deep unease felt about taking action, but said the UK could not stand by in the face of the threat from IS.

Meanwhile, shortly before the debate, the Home Secretary Theresa May announced the under-fire Passport Office was to be brought into the Home Office and made directly accountable to ministers - a move that led to accusations of the department seeking to "bury bad news".

The Cabinet unanimously backed military action against IS on Thursday, and the Government is expected to secure the backing of most MPs for airstrikes in Iraq, which senior ministers have warned could last up to three years.

The widow of UK aid worker David Haines, who was beheaded on film by his captors, has also backed targeted British airstrikes.

Operations could begin within hours of a vote in the Commons, which is due at around 5pm.


Desperate to avoid a repeat of the Commons defeat over airstrikes against Syria last year, the PM tabled a cautiously-worded motion intended to win support from all parties for action in Iraq.

Mr Cameron went into the debate with an opinion poll suggesting voters strongly back airstrikes in Iraq, but would also support attacks against Syria.

The findings are a complete turnaround from 13 months ago, when voters opposed airstrikes on Syria's President Bashar al Assad by two-to-one.

The debate came as Denmark announced it was sending seven F-16 planes to join the coalition fight against IS in Iraq.

:: Watch the Commons debate on Sky News Sky 501, Virgin Media 602, Freesat 202, Freeview 132.

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