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Volume 613: debated on Tuesday 12 July 2016

14. What recent assessment he has made of the progress of the international campaign to defeat ISIS/Daesh. (905821)

Significant military progress has been made in Iraq, Syria and Libya since my right hon. Friend the Defence Secretary updated the House on 24 May. Iraqi security forces have liberated Falluja. The Syrian Democratic Forces are closing in on Manbij in Syria. In Libya, Misratan forces have pushed Daesh back to the city centre in Sirte, and the Libyan national army is winning the battle against Daesh in Benghazi. We now need to see political progress in Syria, Libya and Iraq to match those military successes.

What initiatives has the Secretary of State undertaken recently to ensure that the international effort concentrates on securing the defeat of Daesh, rather than of the proxies, or the allies, involved in the process?

The hon. Gentleman is referring, I think, to the situation in Syria, where there are two separate battles going on: the civil war between the regime and its opponents, and the battle by the international community against Daesh. We are clear, and always have been clear, that there cannot be lasting success against Daesh unless we resolve the political crisis in Syria and create a regime that is acceptable to the Sunni Muslim population of Syria, giving them an alternative to the appalling offer from Daesh.

Countering Daesh in Libya requires a stable Government and an end to the country’s ongoing civil war. On 19 April, the Secretary of State said that the new Government of National Accord is

“the only legitimate Government of Libya.”—[Official Report, 19 April 2016; Vol. 608, c. 781.]

Will he therefore assure the House that, since the GNA was formed last December, no British support has been provided to any Libyan militia group that is not allied to the GNA, such as those working with former general Khalifa Haftar?

The hon. Lady knows that if we were minded to commit combat forces to activity in Libya, we would first come to the House of Commons. We are working very closely with the Government of National Accord, including talking to them about how we can use exemptions from the UN arms embargo to forge a closer working relationship between militias and that Government. She will be interested to know that later this afternoon I will meet Prime Minister Sarraj here in London.