THE UK Government “stand condemned” over news that British military personnel have been involved in air strikes in Syria. The SNP’s foreign affairs spokesperson Alex Salmond has tabled an urgent question in the House of Commons demanding the government comes to Parliament on Monday to defend its “pathetic, ridiculous, undemocratic, unsatisfactory and reckless position”.

Documents released to human rights organisation Reprieve show that around 20 personnel, including three pilots, were embedded with other coalition nations’ forces, including the US and Canada. Three British pilots took part in air strikes.

Yesterday afternoon, a spokesperson for Downing Street admitted the Prime Minister had been aware of the action and confirmed that up to a dozen pilots had been involved since September.

The MoD has insisted that there are currently no British troops in Syria and that previous involvement was part of a “long-standing embed programme” that involves British troops “under the command of host nations”. Defence secretary Michael Fallon said it was “absolutely standard practice”.

Speaking to The National, Salmond said, “The Government has been involved in, at best, concealment and, at worst, organised deception of MPs”.

The Gordon MP rejected Fallon’s claims that the embed programme was “standard practice”.

Salmond said: “I challenge the Government to produce a single precedent where members of Her Majesty’s armed forces have been engaged in a theatre of conflict which has been specially ruled out by the UK Parliament.

“I doubt very much there was any RAF personnel involved in bombing missions in Vietnam”.

He continued: “The idea that UK personnel has in this sleekit, underhand fashion been involved in some way is totally, utterly ridiculous, unsatisfactory, deplorable and anti-democratic”.

Salmond was furious that British troops were being put at risk.

“These are people who have been put in the line of fire. What would have happened if one of them had been killed? What would have happened if one of them had been captured by Daesh? Would that be the first we learned of our active participation in combat operations? You cannot put troops in harm’s way without a democratic authority and in this case there is none.

“Therefore the Government, the Prime Minister, the Secretary of State for Defence, stand condemned”.

There was outrage at the news from all parties.

Tory MP John Baron said the personnel should be withdrawn as Parliament had “said no to military intervention”

New Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron told Sky News on yesterday morning: “My sense is that here, in the Isis-occupied territories of Syria and Iraq, for the UK and the US to be seen to be directly involved – particularly in Syria – just plays into the hands of the Islamic fundamentalists who abuse Islam and indeed murder so many Muslims and so many other people in and around their territories. Let’s not play into their hands.”

DDEFENDING the position, the defence secretary said the embed programme had been ongoing since the end of the second world war: “ISIS have to be defeated in both countries. We don’t have at the moment parliamentary authority to carry out military air strikes in Syria, but the Americans do and they’ve been doing that to keep all of us safe.

“When we’re going to run British military strikes in Syria, of course we’ve said we’ll go to Parliament for approval, but this is different.”

In a brief statement, the MOD said: “The UK is contributing to the anti-ISIL Coalition air campaign against ISIL targets in Syria through the provision of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. ISIL poses a direct threat to the UK and to countries around the world.

“The UK itself is not conducting air strikes in Syria. But we do have a long-standing embed programme with allies, where small numbers of UK personnel act under the command of host nations.

‘‘That has been the case in Syria, although there are currently no pilots operating in this region. When embedded, UK personnel are effectively operating as foreign troops.’’

Jennifer Gibson, staff attorney at

Reprieve, said: “Documents obtained by Reprieve indicate that UK personnel have already been involved in bombing missions over Syria for some time – making the current debate over whether Britain should carry out such strikes somewhat obsolete.”