EU governments must recognise the Syrian Assad regime as the root cause of ISIS, according to North West MEP Afzal Khan.
Mr Khan, who is also Vice-Chair of Security and Defence, has warned the elimination of ISIS ‘will not end’ radicalized opposition groups in Syria and says new groups will likely emerge to ‘fill the void’.
The brutal extremist group has sought to establish a ‘caliphate’ – or Islamic State – across parts of Syria and Iraq and have seized swathes of territory throughout the region.
Delivering an impassioned speech in European Parliament yesterday, Afzal Khan said: “Despite the tragedy facing Syrian civilians under ISIS rule, the ruling Assad regime is responsible for far more death, displacement and destruction.
“Were it not for the atrocities of the Assad regime, ISIS would never have been able to take root in Syria.
“Even the elimination of ISIS will not end radicalised opposition groups in Syria as new groups will likely emerge to fill the void.”
ISIS has posted a series of gruesome videos online purporting to show the beheadings of Western hostages, including that of Eccles taxi driver Alan Henning in October 2014. Most recently, they released the horrific burning alive of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh.
Though the early influx of combatants in Syria largely consisted of Sunni Muslims opposed to President Bashar al-Assad, the group has now recruited thousands of fighters from across the world, including the
UK, transforming from rebel group to global terror threat.
Drawing attention to the fact that “7 million refugees, especially children, are under threat from the winter months right now”, Mr Khan levelled the accusation that the Assad regime is “largely responsible
for the humanitarian crisis facing the country.”
MEP Khan closed his speech by appealing to the EU to increase its pressure on the regime to help restore peace and security in Syria and the wider region.
Yasmine Nahlawi, spokesperson for Rethink Rebuild Society, a Manchester non-profit organisation serving as the voice of the Syrian community, said: “We echo MEP Khan’s strong statements that the humanitarian crisis in Syria emerged through the brutality of the Assad regime, and can only begin to be addressed by ensuring that he has no future in Syria.”
Image courtesy of Afzal Khan via YouTube, with thanks.