Nia Griffith MP has used her position as Shadow Defence Secretary this week to seek clarity from Sir Michael Fallon, Secretary of State for Defence, about the RAF’s role in Iraq, about how Mosul will be defended if and when it is secured, and about humanitarian aid for those who are forced to flee.
Speaking up in the House of Commons, she said
“The horror that Daesh has inflicted on the people of Mosul since it captured the city in June 2014 is unimaginable: women killed for not wearing full Islamic veils and gay men thrown from buildings. We fully support the operation to liberate the city, because Daesh, in its evil ideology, must be defeated wherever it emerges. I say that not only to protect the people of Iraq and Syria who have suffered such a great deal, but to protect our citizens here in the UK from the global threat posed by Daesh.
Although I fully accept that he cannot divulge the operational details, I would ask the Secretary of State to set out the full extent of the RAF’s involvement in the future, and how he intends to keep this House informed.
A number of forces are assisting with this important offensive, including militia groups and paramilitary figures, but there is concern about what would happen if some of these groups were to go into the city. What assurances has the Secretary of State had from the Iraqi authorities that it is only the Iraqi army and Iraqi police who will enter Mosul? We expect this offensive to last weeks and possibly months, but, once it has been completed, there will be a need to secure and defend Mosul to ensure that Daesh is driven out for good and that the city does not descend into sectarian fighting. Will the Secretary of State tell the House what preparations are being made to protect the citizens and to rebuild the city?
Will the Secretary of State also set out in greater detail what humanitarian assistance the UK will be providing, not just in the immediate term, but in the longer term, to support any displaced people?
We stand in solidarity against Daesh and its wicked ideology, and with the brave armed service personnel who will be assisting vitally in this important campaign.”
In response, the Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said the RAF will continue to “strike deliberate targets” and offer air support to ground forces.
On the issue of who will be allowed into the city, Sir Michael said Ms Griffith’s concerns were “quite well founded” and that the issue is being “very carefully evaluated”.
He said: `There are red lines drawn and everybody involved is very keen that those lines should not be crossed.”
The Defence Secretary said it will be “very important” that, after liberation, the citizens of the city are given “sufficient reassurance” that Mosul will be defended so they can return.