Raqqa and Daesh

Earlier this week (24th October 2017) Mike Gapes MP highlighted the role of the Syrian Democratic Forces and Syria's Kurds in liberating Raqqa from Daesh.

Mike Gapes MP (Labour/Co-operative, Ilford South): My right hon. Friend Mr Bradshaw referred to the vote two years ago. Unfortunately, I was unable to take part in that vote, but I welcome the liberation of Raqqa. As the Minister said, it proves that conflicts of this kind cannot be won simply from the air. Ground forces have to be used. Will he reiterate our praise for the Syrian Democratic Forces, particularly Syria’s Kurds, who have played a pivotal role, and tell the Turkish Government to stop attacking them?

Alistair Burt Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Jointly with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office), Minister of State (Foreign and Commonwealth Office) (Joint with the Department for International Development): The hon. Gentleman has always been clear in his determination to take what he considers to be the right action, regardless of the political pressure on him, and he has been courageous to do so. Some battles clearly cannot be fought without ground troops being involved, as recent conflicts in Iraq and Syria have shown. There would have been no liberation of Mosul from the air, nor of Tal Afar or Raqqa. The United Kingdom did not take part in those operations; others have done so elsewhere, with our support. The hon. Gentleman is right to mention Kurdish forces’ leadership of the coalition forces that have been operating in Raqqa and the extraordinary work they have done. Whatever difficult situations may be faced back in the Kurdish region of Iraq, it is clear that those fighters and the people they represent deserve to be treated with the greatest of respect. Any political situation needs to be handled with great care, and there needs to be a lot of dialogue between states, not undue pressure or force.

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