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UK to join US-led airstrikes against IS in Iraq

London: The UK will join US-led air strikes against Islamic State (IS) terror network in Iraq as Britain's lawmakers today overwhelmingly voted in favour of joining the fight against the dreaded militant group.

Prime Minister David Cameron had called a special session of Parliament to make a case for Britain to join US-led air strikes against the terror network and as many as 524 MPs voted in favour of the motion.

Only 43 MPs voted no and there were a number of abstentions, reflecting some unease over the decision.

The strikes could be launched within hours of the vote as Cameron convinced MPs there is a "strong case" for UK military intervention in Iraq and Syria.

But today's vote was restricted to joining US-led strikes in Iraq and plans for extending the action to Syria may require a further vote.

Cameron had earlier stressed that it was in the UK's interest to join in bombings in Iraq against IS and there was "no legal barrier" to similar action in Syria.

Speaking in the House of Commons debate, he said IS poses a "clear and proven" threat to British lives and was a "brutal", well-funded "terrorist organisation" that had de-stabilised Iraq and Syria.

He added that Islamic militants "have already murdered one British hostage" and are "threatening the lives of two more".

He said: "The brutality is staggering - beheadings, crucifixions, the gouging out of eyes, the use of rape as a weapon, the slaughter of children. All of these things belong to the dark ages.

"This is not a threat on the far side of the world. Left unchecked we will face a terrorist caliphate on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member with a declared and a proven determination to attack our country and our people."

The British PM described IS, which has invaded large areas of Syria and Iraq, as "a terrorist organisation unlike those we have dealt with before".

"This is going to be a mission that will take not just months but years but I believe we have to be prepared for that commitment," he said while answering a question on the length and scope of the mission in the House of Commons debate. All three main political parties in the UK ¿ the Conservatives, Liberal Democrats and Labour ¿ backed UK military participation in bombings against IS in Iraq, which the coalition says is legal because it was requested by the Iraqi government.

IS has seized large parts of Iraq and Syria in recent months. The group, also known as ISIS or ISIL, has used tactics that have included beheadings of soldiers, Western journalists and aid workers.

British aid worker David Haines was beheaded by the terror group. Haines, 44, was seized in Syria in 2013 and was being held by IS militants who have already killed two US journalists.

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