Tony Blair praises UK decision to begin airstrikes in Syria

Published December 5th, 2015 - 06:00 GMT

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has praised the Conservative government’s decision to extend airstrikes against ISIL [Daesh] from Iraq into Syria

He called the decision an “important” one to confront threats “within our home.”

Addressing the Library of Congress in Washington, Blair insisted that defeating Daesh is only the first step in tackling extremism, claiming the ideology itself must be eradicated.

British MPs voted overwhelmingly in favor of launching airstrikes against IS targets in Syria on Wednesday.

Just hours after the vote, RAF Tornado jets carried out bombing raids on oilfields in the east of the country.

However, Blair cautioned that airstrikes are “only a necessary beginning.”

“For Europe, there is a huge calculation to be made. This security threat is at our door. It is actually within our home, we have a paramount interest in defeating it, which is why last night’s vote in the British House of Commons was so important,” he said.

Blair, who led the UK into the invasion of Iraq in 2003, said extremist ideology must be tackled in order to defeat ISIL. He claimed key aspects of ISIL ideology stretch “deep into parts of Muslim society.”

“However, in many Muslim countries large numbers also believe that the CIA or Jews were behind 9/11. Clerics who proclaim that non-believers and apostates must be killed or call for jihad against Jews have Twitter followings running into millions ... The ideology has deep roots. We have to reach right the way down and uproot it,” he said.

He said ISIL and its allied groups must be defeated in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and parts of Egypt and sub-Saharan Africa.

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