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Corbyn: No decision on whether to allow free vote on Syria

Jeremy Corbyn speaking on The Andrew Marr Show. Credit: BBC One/The Andrew Marr Show

Jeremy Corbyn says no decision has been made on whether Labour MPs will be allowed a free vote on the issue of extending air strikes against Islamic State in Syria.

He added that it would be his decision alone whether to attempt to whip MPs into backing him in his opposition to the government's policy.

Shortly afterward, defence secretary Michael Fallon said the government is hoping to hold a vote on the issue this week, but as yet does not have the support of enough MPs to guarantee victory.

Re-stating his opposition to the measure, Mr Corbyn said: "Surely this process has to be a political one to end this ghastly conflict in Syria."

Asked if he was concerned about reports of a coup by disgruntled Labour MPs, he said: "I'm not going anywhere. I'm enjoying every minute of it."

Fallon: Government hoping for Syria vote this week

The government is hoping to hold a vote on airstrikes in Syria this week but does not have enough support to guarantee victory, defence secretary Michael Fallon has said.

Michael Fallon said RAF 'precision strikes' would reduce civilian casualties. Credit: BBC One/The Andrew Marr Show

Speaking on BBC One's The Andrew Marr Show, Mr Fallon said ministers were still "building the case", and were in ongoing conversations with Labour MPs on the issue.

He said France had specifically asked British RAF jets to join their attacks on so-called Islamic State strongholds in the country, and claimed that failing to join the strikes would "damage our reputation internationally" and "leave us less safe than we are at the moment".

Asked about the possibility of civilians being killed in the strikes, Mr Fallon said that British involvement would reduce the risk due to the RAF's "precision strike fighters".

The Observer newspaper reported concerns from a number of recent refugees from the Syrian city of Raqqa - a stronghold for so-called Islamic State - who claimed the militant group was keeping civilians to be used as "human shields" during attacks.

However, Fallon said: "The RAF have been striking, with the permission of parliament, in Iraq for over a year now and our estimate is there hasn't yet been a single civilian casualty, because of the precision their strikes."


Russian pilot's body now in Turkey's hands, PM says

The body of a pilot killed when Turkey shot down a Russian jet last week is now in Turkey's hands, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said.

The body will be handed over to Russia at Moscow's request, he said.

He added that the issue of different coalitions operating in Syria with differing objectives meant similar incidents could happen in the future without improved information sharing and coordination.

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