LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron said on Wednesday that Sunni Islamist insurgents fighting in Iraq were planning to attack Britain and that “ungoverned spaces” where militants thrived had to be shut down.
Cameron spoke out as Iran’s president vowed to defend Shi‘ite holy sites in Iraq, where Sunni militants battled their way into the biggest oil refinery in what is rapidly turning into a sectarian war across the frontiers of the Middle East.
Britain has ruled out any military involvement in Iraq, but has sent an “operational liaison and reconnaissance team” to Baghdad and is providing humanitarian aid. It has also pledged to crack down on Britons travelling to the region to fight alongside the insurgents.
But Cameron, who is chairing a meeting of Britain’s National Security Council to discuss the subject later on Wednesday, said his country could not afford to stand on the sidelines.
“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 it won’t affect us. It will,” Cameron told parliament.
“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.”
Reporting by Andrew Osborn and William James; Editing by Andrew Osborn