Britain’s Prime Minister David Cameron admitted on Tuesday that the British government is prepared to work militarily with relatively hardline Islamist groups in Syria.
Cameron made the admission while answering a question from the House of Commons’ Liaison Committee about a claim he had made back in November that there were 70,000 “moderate” fighters in Syria that were ready to help Britain by fighting ISIS (also known as Islamic State, ISIL and Daesh) on the ground.
Below is the conversation between Cameron and the chair of the Defence Committee Julian Lewis that revealed the truth about the fighters (emphasis ours):
We really ought to be told more about the composition of the allegedly moderate forces that we are now mounting airstrikes to support.
…What I’d repeat again though, and yes, some of the opposition forces are Islamist, some of them are relatively hardline Islamist and some of them are more what we would describe as more secular democrats.
You can watch a video of the exchange below.
The 70,000 claim was immediately questioned by the Guardian, the BBC,the Times, the Independent, the Daily Mail and the Mirror, and a range of politicians when parliament was debating whether Britain should join the US and other Western forces in bombing ISIS in Syria in November.
He initially told MPs that “although the situation on the ground is complex, our assessment is that there are around 70,000 Syrian opposition fighters on the ground who do not belong to extremist groups.“
Back in November, Julian Lewis even told Sky News:
“Where are these magical 70,000 people and if they are there fighting, how come they haven’t been able to roll back ISIL/Daesh? Is it that they’re in the wrong place? Is it that they’re fighting each other? Or is it that in reality they’re not all that moderate and that there are a lot of jihadists among them?
“I think we really need to know about this so that we don’t look back on this moment as having made a big mistake on the base of misleading information that was given not by the Prime Minister but to the Prime Minister.”
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