The UK Parliament has backed British participation in air strikes against Islamic State extremists in Iraq. After a seven-hour debate, MPs voted for military action by 524 votes to 43. Bombing could start as early as Sunday according to defense sources.
The Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labor leaderships all backed air strikes although some MPs expressed concerns about where it would lead and the prospect of future engagement in Syria.
Speaking after the vote, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said a long campaign lay ahead and there would not be a series of immediate hits. He added that the priority would be to stop the slaughter of civilians in Iraq and the UK and its allies would continue to be guided by Iraqi and Kurdish intelligence in identifying targets.
Some 23 Labor MPs voted against air strikes, as did six Conservatives, one Liberal Democrat, two Plaid Cymru MPs and five Scottish National Party MPs.
They were joined in the no lobby by Green MP Caroline Lucas, three Social Democratic and Labor party MPs and Respect MP George Galloway. Two MPs acted as no tellers during the vote, Labor's Jeremy Corbyn and the SNP's Pete Wishart.
Earlier, Prime Minister David Cameron told MPs that intervention at the request of the Iraqi government was morally justified to combat a brutal terrorist organization and was clearly lawful.
He said Britain had a clear duty to join the campaign, saying IS was a direct threat to the UK and he was not prepared to subcontract the protection of British streets from terrorism to other countries' air forces.
He won support from Labor leader Ed Miliband who said inaction would lead to more killing in Iraq, large swathes of which are controlled by Islamic State.
Cameron also said there was a strong case for UK military intervention in Syria, where the US and its Arab allies are engaged in aerial bombardment of IS positions.
The PM said he believed military action there would be lawful on the grounds of intervening to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe, and of protecting Iraq from attacks being launched from Syria. But he acknowledged there was no consensus for such a move among MPs.
The government has said it would seek separate Parliamentary approval for the extension of air strikes to Syria but reserved the right to act without consulting MPs in the event of a humanitarian emergency.
Meanwhile, shadow education minister Rushanara Ali, the MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, earlier resigned from the party's front bench in order to abstain in the Iraq vote.
Labor MP Iain McKenzie was sacked as an aide to shadow defense secretary Vernon Coaker for failing to back air strikes.
Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said it was impossible to reason with Islamic State and the UK should not be paralyzed by the legacy of the 2003 Iraq War.
And Mr. Miliband - who a year ago forced the prime minister to abandon plans for air strikes against the Syrian regime by inflicting a Commons revolt on the issue - said the UK cannot simply stand by.
Speaking after the vote, Labor MP John McDonnell, who voted against air strikes, said the previous intervention in Iraq was one of the causes of the emergence of the jihadist movement. We seem to be making the same mistakes without any alternative strategy, he was quoted by BBC News.
The US began a series of air strikes in Iraq last month, and on Monday it began attacks on targets in Syria. Jets from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have joined US forces in the attacks, and the US says more than 40 countries have offered to join the anti-IS coalition.