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British Prime Minister Urges Parliament To Approve Airstrikes In Syria


This week, British prime minister David Cameron will again try to convince Parliament to approve Royal Air Force strikes against ISIS in Syria. He lost that vote two years ago, but the Paris attacks appear to have changed the mood of Parliament. NPR's Peter Kenyon reports that David Cameron is also asking for billions of dollars in additional defense spending.

PETER KENYON, BYLINE: The Prime Minister spent the morning in Paris, visiting the Bataclan concert hall where 89 people were killed and meeting with President Francois Holland. As he returned to England, he said supporting French attacks against ISIS is important, but Britain needs to be directly engaged in Syria as well. He'll push Parliament for another vote in the coming days.


DAVID CAMERON: It's in our national interest in that we degrade and destroy this dreadful organization and the terror that it has brought down against not just French citizens in Paris or Russian citizens over the Sinai desert but also against British citizens in Tunisia and here in the United Kingdom. We have to defeat this evil.

KENYON: In 2013, Cameron suffered an embarrassing defeat as Parliament failed to approve strikes in Syria. But political experts now say several events, including the Paris attacks, have more MPs prepared to vote yes on the airstrikes. The call for airstrikes will be part of what Cameron calls a new strategy for defeating ISIS, including $18 billion in extra defense spending. That's a sharp reversal from the cuts announced five years ago. Critics are warning, however, that the government still appears to be pursuing cuts in funding for the police, and this increase in new military equipment will still be paid for by painful cuts in civilian defense jobs. The government says new nuclear submarines and aircraft carriers already in the works will be joined in up to 10 years by more F-35 fighter jets, marine surveillance aircraft and two 5,000-strong rapid reaction strike forces. Cameron says if need be, those 10,000 troops could be deployed should London face the kind of carnage Paris experienced on November 13. Peter Kenyon, NPR News, London. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Peter Kenyon is NPR's international correspondent based in Istanbul, Turkey.