Poll: Should the government launch airstrikes in Syria?

Airstrikes could be launched within hours of a Yes vote Credit: PA Wire

MPs from across the Midlands are due to take part in a vote today on whether to bomb so-called Islamic State targets in Syria.

They are debating a motion set out by the government on how to tackle the extreme militant Islamic organisation.

The government is proposing to conduct airstrikes in Syria but won't deploy ground troops.

Key points in the motion include:

  • To conduct "military action, specifically airstrikes" against IS in Syria

  • The airstrikes will only be targeting IS

  • The government will not deploy ground troops as part of the operation

  • Britain will support France's call for military support against IS

  • That there is a 'clear legal basis' to defend the UK and allies in accordance with the UN charter

Other parts of the motion include ensuring that plans are made for after military operations finish in Syria, including how to stabilise and reconstruct the country.

The government also "acknowledges the importance" of trying to avoid civilian casualties and says that military action would be "one component of a broader strategy to bring peace and stability to Syria".

Tornado fighter jets - the type that would conduct bombings in Syria Credit: ITV News

Is it legal under international law?

The decision to invade Iraq in 2003 drew considerable criticism, not least because of claims it was illegal under United Nations international law.

The motion being debated today on whether to conduct airstrikes in Syria begins by "welcoming UN Security Council Resolution 2249". The resolution, passed by the UN last month, supports "all necessary measures in compliance with international law" to prevent terrorist attacks by so-called Islamic State - and supports eradicating their safe havens in Syria.

But the UN resolution did not specifically call for military action (it didn't invoke Chapter VII of the UN charter, which authorises military action), So whether airstrikes would be considered legal by the UN is not clear.

Credit: Reuters

Who are so-called Islamic State?

The so-called Islamic State are also known as ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant), ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) and Da'esh (the Arabic name for the organisation - roughly translating to ISIL).

They are an extremist Islamic militant organisation which is now in control of a patch of land covering parts of Syria and Iraq. The group capitalised on the Syrian civil war and unrest in religious tensions in Iraq to establish a so-called 'Caliphate'.

IS have committed numerous crimes against humanity, including beheading captive soldiers, journalists and aid workers, mass public executions of civilians and widespread rape and slavery.

Most recently, responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Paris last month was claimed by the group. More than 130 people died in a series of bombs and shootings.