Speech - US Troop Withdrawal from Northern Syria

Richard Drax MP

The only way to stand firm against this recent scourge that is Daesh, ISIS, call it what you will is by doing just that—standing firm. As a former soldier, I must say that to withdraw now seems like an act of betrayal to the Kurds, who are brave allies and whom I do not want to see on our TV screens fighting for their lives in the days to come. Will the Minister assure me that if there are any British soldiers on the ground, they will not get caught up in the fighting—if there is some—between the Kurds and the Turks?

The Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, the Rt Dr Andrew Murrison MP

I think I can give that reassurance. As I said in response to an earlier question, we do not have boots on the ground. Let me be clear: that means we do not have combat soldiers on the ground. I am grateful for the opportunity that my hon. Friend has given me to clarify that point. We have others, as part of the coalition, who engage, for example, in training, and across the middle east we have UK servicemen engaged in the fight against Daesh. That will continue. Our No.1 imperative is the defeat of Daesh, and we have to celebrate the fact that the coalition has been very successful against Daesh in achieving a substantial degradation in that malign organisation. That will continue.