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Civilians in Syria

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:20 pm on 12th October 2015.

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Photo of Tobias Ellwood Tobias Ellwood The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 10:20 pm, 12th October 2015

No, I will not give way.

The Russian Government’s increased support for Assad has further complicated an already complex situation. They must take responsibility for their part in escalating the Syrian war. By predominantly hitting non-ISIL targets, they will only fuel more extremism and more radicalisation.

We call on Russia to cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians and to focus its efforts on ISIL. Observers of the middle east will know that Russia’s strong links with and interests in Syria are not new. Secret agreements offering diplomatic and political support were signed even before Syria gained its independence from France. The Soviets offered military help to form the Syrian army in the first place and Hafez al-Assad sided with the Soviets during the cold war and agreed the permanent basing of naval, land and air assets. This is not just about global posturing but Russia’s actions in shoring up a tyrant who was on his way out, and it will lead to Russia’s losing influence in the long term.

It took six days for Russia to strike any ISIL targets at all. More than 85% of Russian strikes have been—