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Jonathan Djanogly questions Government about Russian withdrawal from Syria

15th March 2016

Jonathan Djanogly questions the Government about future UK and US air operations in Syria following a Russian withdrawal.

Mr Jonathan Djanogly (Huntingdon) (Con): Assuming that the Russian withdrawal does take place—I understand there is no certainty in that—will UK and US air forces take over Russian targets against Daesh with the intention of ensuring that there is no reduction in the intensity of action against Daesh as a result of Russian withdrawal?

Mr Hammond: I do not think I can comment at the Dispatch Box on what will drive US and UK targeting decisions, but I can say this. The Russian air force operates largely within a part of Syria that is heavily protected by the Syrian integrated air defence system. The Russians can fly there because they are operating in what is for them a permissive environment, not least because Russian technicians control the Syrian air defence system. It would not be the same for US, UK and other coalition partners. I do not think there can be an assumption that western members of the coalition will be able to take over all the targeting activity against Daesh that is currently being carried out by the Russians.

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