The Battle Against IS Is Not Over, Says Defence Secretary

Gavin Williamson said the fight to counter IS - also known as Daesh - was entering a "new phase" as the terrorists disperse and prepare for...


The battle against Islamic State is not over and they remain the most significant terrorist threat to Britain, the Defence Secretary has warned.

Gavin Williamson said the fight to counter IS - also known as Daesh - was entering a "new phase" as the terrorists disperse and prepare for a potential insurgency.

He told the Commons the militant group's ability to "inspire, direct and enable attacks" on British interests meant it remained the "most significant" threat to the UK.

Delivering a statement updating MPs on counter-Daesh efforts, he said: "Thanks to the courage of our forces and our partners on the ground, Daesh's final territorial defeat is now at hand.

"But the battle against the poison of Daesh is not quite over, instead we are entering a new phase as the terrorists change their approach - disperse and prepare for a potential insurgency.

"In Iraq, Daesh cells exist in Mosul, Hawija, Diyala, Anbar and Baghdad from where they will attempt to grow once more - sowing the seeds of instability and undermining the faith in the Government to deliver security."

Mr Williamson went on to say: "More widely, Daesh remains the most significant terrorist threat to the United Kingdom due to their ability to inspire, direct and enable attacks on our interests.

"That is why we continue working through the global coalition to eliminate the danger that Daesh poses and that is why the British people can rest assured that this Government will continue to do everything in our power to protect them.

"By dealing with the threat at source in Iraq and Syria we can keep that threat away from our shores by making sure that we're involved in the counter-insurgency work that we're doing with the Iraqi government and also our allies in Syria."

While speaking in the Commons, Mr Williamson also condemned an Amnesty International report which alleged the RAF, as part of the US-led coalition, had killed hundreds of civilians in Syria.

RAF Tornadoes
In April, four Tornado GR4s joined the strikes against Syria, launching Storm Shadow missiles at a base 15 miles west of Homs.

The charity claimed the coalition had been responsible for killing hundreds of civilians in Raqqa and called on the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to "come clean" over Britain's role.

The Defence Secretary branded the report "disgraceful" and said all the allegations were "unfounded":

"I must say I was deeply, deeply disappointed by the Amnesty report and I actually think it was a deeply disappointing and disgraceful report.

"We have always been very open about the strikes that we've made.

"When Amnesty decided that they were going to issue this report they contacted the MoD, but within 24 hours, without the ability for us to go back and explain that all the allegations they had put forward were actually unfounded, and they weren't even RAF flights that had been involved.

"They didn't give us the opportunity to be actually able to correct such a damaging and disgraceful report.

"We have written to Amnesty International and we have invited them to the MoD to discuss this because if they're going to produce reports we want them to be accurate, and we certainly don't want them to be calling into question the amazing professionalism of our Royal Air Force."