Air strikes against IS targets have taken place since August 2014 and the United States and its allies have now intensified that form of military action - BBC News 23rd September 2014 - US launches air strikes on Syria IS militants
At the United Nations General Assembly there were key speeches by President Obama and Prime Minister David Cameron:
President Obama 24th September 2014
Prime Minister Cameron 24th September 2014
As the United Kingdom moves
toward playing a military role in Iraq (but not, it appears, in Syria) the House of Commons Library has issued a "Standard Note" looking at Iraq, Syria and ISIS - recent developments. The UK Parliament has been recalled for Friday 26th September - see the Number 10 Downing Street statement.
Introducing the Standard Note, Parliament's website states:
'Since the shock takeover of Mosul, the progress of ISIS through Iraq has been slowed and, in some places reversed. This has happened because further, Shia-dominated territory is more difficult for ISIS to conquer and because demoralised Iraqi forces are increasingly supported by Shia militias, often with Iranian organisational help, by Kurdish Peshmerga forces who are receiving assistance from the West, and by US air strikes.
The formation of a new government in Baghdad has raised hopes that a political solution to the violence could emerge, but even a broadly acceptable Iraqi government will have to deal with intractable problems including the failures of the armed forces, sharing of oil revenues, decentralisation demands and territorial disputes.
The UK and other Western governments have pledged to assist the Kurdish Peshmerga and the Iraqi government, and this is widely thought to comply with international law because the Iraqi government has requested assistance to deal with ISIS. However, any outside military action in Syria (which is thought to be necessary if ISIS is going to be tackled effectively) would be more difficult to justify. There are some who argue that as a humanitarian intervention it could be legal without a UN Security Council resolution; any such resolution would be likely to be vetoed by Russia.
Many commentators have argued that strong military intervention by the West in Iraq would be unlikely to be successful and might even be counter-productive; a solution involving regional powers such as Iran, Turkey and Saudi Arabia would be preferable. However the fundamental hostility between Sunnis and Shias which is likely to be exacerbated by both the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts, stands in the way of regional cooperation and is difficult to resolve.'
Download the full reportIraq, Syria and ISIS - recent developments ( PDF, 25 pages, 543 KB)
Addendum 26th September:
Head of Legal blog argues that if the UK joins the other nations in military action in Iraq then such action need not necessarily be confined to Syria since the right of collective self-defence would permit action in Syria to the extent necessary to deal with any threat ISIL posed - Britain can lawfully attack the Islamic state in both Iraq and Syria
The House of Commons voted in favour of the following motion - (and see The Guardian 26th September):
'That this House condemns the barbaric acts of ISIL against the peoples of Iraq including the Sunni, Shia, Kurds, Christians and Yazidi and the humanitarian crisis this is causing; recognises the clear threat ISIL poses to the territorial integrity of Iraq and the request from the Government of Iraq for military support from the international community and the specific request to the UK Government for such support; further recognises the threat ISIL poses to wider international security and the UK directly through its sponsorship of terrorist attacks and its murder of a British hostage; acknowledges the broad coalition contributing to military support of the Government of Iraq including countries throughout the Middle East; further acknowledges the request of the Government of Iraq for international support to defend itself against the threat ISIL poses to Iraq and its citizens and the clear legal basis that this provides for action in Iraq; notes that this motion does not endorse UK air strikes in Syria as part of this campaign and any proposal to do so would be subject to a separate vote in Parliament; accordingly supports Her Majesty’s Government, working with allies, in supporting the Government of Iraq in protecting civilians and restoring its territorial integrity, including the use of UK air strikes to support Iraqi, including Kurdish, security forces’ efforts against ISIL in Iraq; notes that Her Majesty’s Government will not deploy UK troops in ground combat operations; and offers its wholehearted support to the men and women of Her Majesty’s armed forces'