Even as British lawmakers prepared to authorise military action against Islamic State militants in Iraq, Prime Minister David Cameron warned that the anti-IS campaign could take ‘years’.
Taking part in the debate at the House of Commons, Cameron said the offensive could extend for years and that “we must be prepared for that”.
The Islamic State militants “have already declared war on us” and that there isn’t “a walk on by option”, BBC quoted Cameron as saying.
Cameron said US President Barack Obama has categorically stated that he wants Britain to join the air strikes.
He sought to highlight the fact that Arab countries were part of the coalition against IS, adding the UK must play its role too.
He, however, added that UK ground troops would not be deployed.
Describing IS as a threat to national security, the British PM said the militant group was a terrorist organisation unlike any other the world has seen before.
“This is not a threat on the far side of the world,” Cameron was quoted as telling MPs by the BBC.
Muslims must “reclaim their religion from these extremists”, he said further.
According to him, a successful campaign would ensure a stable Iraq and Syria.
“This is not 2003 but we must not use past mistakes as an excuse for indifference or inaction.”
Leader of the Opposition Ed Miliband said IS is a threat to “anyone who does not subscribe to their deeply perverted ideology”.
Their ideology has “nothing to do with the peaceful religion practised by people across the world and by millions of our fellow citizens, who are appalled by what we see”, he added.
The lawmakers are expected to vote in favour of joining air strikes against IS militants despite echoes of the unpopular US-led 2003 invasion under Tony Blair.
Cameron had earlier argued that Britain should not be “frozen with fear” over fresh military action in Iraq.