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Free Syrian Army

Volume 602: debated on Monday 23 November 2015

Supporting moderates is a key part of our work to resolve the Syrian conflict, so that they can take their place in the inclusive transitional Government needed to defeat ISIL and provide security throughout Syria. In the last 12 months, we have helped train vetted members of the moderate armed opposition and provided support to help save lives, bolster civil society, counter extremism and lay the foundation for a better future in Syria.

Do the Government not recognise that as part of the solution to the ISIS issue we need peace in Syria? Do they not recognise that what they are proposing is a failed policy, and that by investing in a client as a proxy in a civil war, all we are doing is simply escalating the war and perpetuating a greater number of deaths?

I do not wholly agree with that. The work we are doing in Iraq to support the democratic Government of Iraq at their request has stemmed the onrush of ISIL and has started to push ISIL back, north up the Tigris and west of the Euphrates. We need to do the same in Syria, coming to the aid of moderate forces there who want to be free both of Assad, who is bombing his own civilians, and of ISIL, which represents a threat to us all.

Following the Russian intervention, what evidence is there on the ground that the Free Syrian Army is recalibrating its efforts—increasing them against ISIL and reducing them against Assad?

The picture in northern Syria in particular is confused; it is not a simple conflict with front lines as we would normally understand them. It is our long-term objective for Syria to be free of both Assad and ISIL, and we continue to work with moderate elements in Syria to provide them with the equipment they need and, where we can, with training outside Syria.