UK & World News
PM Warns Iraq Terrorists Will 'Hit UK At Home'
The Prime Minister has cautioned that doing nothing in Iraq and Syria would leave Islamist militants free to launch attacks on Britain.
David Cameron told MPs that leaving Iraq to look after its own affairs was not an option and an "extreme Islamist regime" must not be allowed to be created in the middle of the country.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Cameron said those who said the bloody insurgency in the country was "nothing to do with us" were wrong and that left unchecked, ISIS would turn its fire on the UK.
Mr Cameron said at Prime Minister's Questions: "I disagree with those people who think this is nothing to do with us and if they want to have some sort of extreme Islamist regime in the middle of Iraq, that won't affect us. It will.
"The people in that regime - as well as trying to take territory - are also planning to attack us here at home in the United Kingdom.
"So the right answer is to be long-term, hard-headed, patient and intelligent with the interventions that we make.
"The most important intervention of all is to make sure that these governments are fully representative of the people who live in their countries, they close down the ungoverned space, and that they remove the support for the extremists."
Mr Cameron said action was being taken to prevent young men from the UK travelling to fight with the militants in Syria and Iraq and from those radicalised in the Middle East returning to Britain.
He estimated that around 400 Britons were fighting for ISIS in Syria. However, he was unclear on the number involved in the Iraq insurgency.
It has emerged that social media website ask.fm is investigating posts by users over possible recruitment to ISIS.
Syria's President, Bashar al Assad, later said that terrorism would strike back against the West and other nations that have "supported" attacks in his country and other parts of the Middle East.
"The West and countries that support extremism and terrorism in Syria and the region ... must realise that this growing threat will strike the whole world, especially the countries that support terrorism and that allowed it to grow," he said.
Mr Cameron's words echoed those of Tony Blair, who in an interview with Sky News at the weekend called for intervention in Iraq and Syria to ensure terrorists were not able to strike at the UK.
Mr Cameron chaired a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) with senior security advisers this afternoon to discuss the Iraq crisis and how to protect Britain from battle-hardened insurgents returning from Iraq and Syria.
While ruling out military intervention in support of Baghdad, he has promised to do "absolutely everything we can" to protect Britain from terrorism.
Former security minister Baroness Neville-Jones told Sky News it is "very, very easy" for young men to get to Iraq, and said the threat posed by fighters returning from Syria was greater than that of those who went to Pakistan and Afghanistan in the past.
She said: "I think a lot of them go with very hazy notions of what they're really going to do.
"When they get there that is actually for many of them the time and the place where they actually do get radicalised and they learn how to commit acts of violence and they learn how to do it in a very efficient fashion. That's when the danger arises and then they come back."
It comes as insurgents launched a mortar and machine-gun assault on Iraq's biggest oil refinery in Baiji, north of Baghdad.