Cameron says Britain cannot 'opt out' of fight against IS

Cameron says Britain cannot 'opt out' of fight against IS
British Prime Minister David Cameron.

LONDON - Britain cannot opt out of a battle against Islamic State jihadists, Prime Minister David Cameron said on Tuesday, as newspapers reported he was considering joining air strikes targeting the group.

"This is a fight you cannot opt out of. These people want to kill us," Cameron told an interview with NBC news, saying that the militants had planned attacks in Europe and elsewhere.

"They've got us in their sights and we have to put together this coalition, working with radical support... to make sure that we ultimately destroy this evil organisation."

IS militants have killed hundreds of people in the swathes of Iraq and Syria under the group's control, forced more than one million from their homes in Iraq, and beheaded a series of foreign hostages.

Cameron has given his backing to air strikes and missile attacks against the jihadist group by the United States and Arab allies, but has so far limited British involvement to arming Kurdish fighters and supportive roles.

However, The Independent newspaper reported that Cameron could recall lawmakers to an emergency session to debate whether Britain should join air strikes, when he returns from a United Nations summit in New York at the end of the week.

In an interview with magazine The Spectator, British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said that Cameron has "little time for the idea that Britain should stay out of the fight".

"He seems morally offended at the suggestion that we should leave it to other countries to deal with Islamic State and irritated at the failure of some to grasp that the struggle against Islamist extremism is 'Britain's business'", Fallon said.

Fallon said that he hoped parliament, which delivered a blow to Cameron a year ago when it voted against joining US-led airstrikes against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, would support the proposal this time.

"I hope parliament now will have the courage shown by our armed forces... to take on this challenge but we'll see."

In a bid to rally regional allies to the fight, Cameron is to meet with Iran's President Hassan Rouhani to discuss unrest in Iraq and Syria in the first meeting in decades between the country's leaders.

The British Conservative leader also met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Tuesday to stress the country's importance in "the fight against Islamist extremism", his office said.

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