Britain is prepared to launch air strikes against Isis terrorists in Afghanistan, the head of the Royal Air Force has signalled.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, the Chief of the Air Staff, said the UK must be able to ‘play a global role in the global coalition to defeat Daesh’ and that could include strikes.
Meanwhile, Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, has said the UK will work with other nations to defeat Isis ‘by all means available’.
Mr Raab said Britain ‘retains the right to exercise self-defence and that must include in relation to terrorist groups operating from abroad’.
The comments came after the UK ended its 20 year deployment in Afghanistan and amid fears the chaos in the country caused by the withdrawal of Western forces and the Taliban takeover could lead to a heightened terror threat.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, the Chief of the Air Staff, said the UK must be able to ‘play a global role in the global coalition to defeat Daesh’ and that could include strikes
Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, has said the UK will work with other nations to defeat Isis ‘by all means available’
The US-led coalition to defeat Isis issued a statement yesterday in which it vowed to continue to work to ‘effectively counter’ the ‘dangerous threat’ posed by the group.
The coalition said: ‘In that effort, we will draw on all elements of national power—military, intelligence, diplomatic, economic, law enforcement—to ensure the defeat of this brutal terrorist organization.
‘We will continue to apply robust counterterrorism pressure against Daesh/ISIS wherever it operates.’
Sir Mike suggested in an interview with The Telegragh that the UK will be willing to conduct airstrikes against the group.
He said: ‘Ultimately what this boils down to is that we’ve got to be able to play a global role in the global coalition to defeat Daesh, whether it’s strike, or whether it’s moving troops or equipment into a particular country, at scale and at speed.’
He added: ‘If there’s an opportunity for us to contribute I am in no doubt that we will be ready to – that will be anywhere where violent extremism raises its head, and is a direct or indirect threat to the UK and our allies.
‘Afghanistan is probably one of the most inaccessible parts of the world, and we’re able to operate there.’
Mr Raab responded to the coalition statement by saying the UK would continue, along with its partners, to show ‘unwavering collective resolve to combat Daesh networks by all means available, wherever they operate’.
The Foreign Secretary was asked to elaborate on Sir Mike’s comments this morning but he declined, telling Sky News: ‘Well, I am not going to comment any more on the operational details that the admiral referred to.
‘But of course, in extremis, the UK retains the right to exercise self-defence and that must include in relation to terrorist groups operating from abroad.’
Mr Raab today insisted that there had been ‘real tangible gains’ made as a result of the conflict in Afghanistan.
He said: ‘You have got to look at the gains that were made because of the sacrifice of so many British forces, US forces and allied forces.
‘We hadn’t seen in that 20 years Afghanistan used as a base for terrorist attacks abroad.
Thee UK ended its 20 year deployment in Afghanistan at the weekend as British military personnel left Kabul airport
‘We had, with our aid money and our wider development policy, got 10 million more children into education.
‘I think by the time we have left, four in 10 of those were girls. If you look at the maternal mortality rate, so mums dying in pregnancy or in childbirth, that was down by close to 50 per cent.
‘So there were real tangible gains for all that sacrifice. Of course now the focus is to recognise the new reality, learn the lessons of course from it but also focus on what we can do going forward.’