LIB Dems have hit out at their party’s decision to back air strikes in Syria.

Party leader Tim Farron received a host of comments criticising his decision to back the UK Government’s military action after he posted a message online to members on Tuesday.

Councillor John Whitehouse was among those who expressed his disagreement.

“I believe we have to stand by our allies, but I do not believe the case has been made for air strikes,” he told The National. “The main reason I believe we should not be bombing is the lack of protection for civilians – that is fundamental. ISIL have embedded themselves in urban areas, within civilian communities. To me this is fundamental. This is not a strategy which I believe provides adequate protection for civilians. I believe it will be a counter productive policy and I don’t want the UK to be part of it.”

Whitehouse, who is a councillor in Warwickshire, added: “There have been a lot of comments online from activists who are pretty disappointed about the line MPs are taking at Westminster.”

He stopped short at reflecting on what he thought former leader Charles Kennedy, who was strongly opposed to the Iraq war in 2003, would be thinking if he was still alive.

“I don’t think we can pretend to say what Charles Kennedy might have been doing or saying in these circumstances. It is a different set of circumstances,” he added.

Another senior activist who did not want to be named said: “A lot of Lib Dems are saying that bombing Syria is not going to solve anything.”

Ahead of last night’s vote Scotland’s sole Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael MP said the decision to back air strikes “has been the most difficult one that I have ever known”.

He added: “I certainly do not share David Cameron’s reported view that those who oppose intervention are “terrorist sympathisers”. This is an issue on which we have all had to come to our own conclusions and for many of us it has been an enormously difficult process. I know no one, inside parliament or not, who has approached this from anything other than a position of good faith and I respect completely those who have reached a different conclusion from mine.”

He said the decision to oppose war in Iraq was simple by comparison – that “it was clearly illegal” was “difficult to identify what the British interest in intervention was”.

“Recognising that some of the problems we are dealing with today have their roots in that disastrous misadventure, we should be quite clear about why this is a different conflict with different issues. “The intervention against ISIL/Daesh in Iraq which we currently support is legal by virtue of the fact that we were invited to take part by the Iraqi Government. The proposed extension of that to Syria is legal as it has the mandate of a United Nation Security Council Resolution 2249,” he added.

“Most importantly of all, if we are really to learn from the mistakes of Iraq and Libya we must be prepared to commit to engaging in post-conflict stabilisation and reconstruction and to commit the money.”

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