Prime Minister David Cameron said on Sunday that the U.K. will take "whatever steps are necessary" to confront ISIL after the militant Islamic group released a video showing the beheading of a British hostage David Haines.
During a televised address following a meeting of the government's emergency response committee, Cameron said the government will confront ISIL with "iron determination," but stopped short of saying that the country will join airstrikes the U.S. is currently planning.
We are a peaceful people. We do not seek out confrontation, but we need to understand we cannot ignore this threat to our security and that to our allies. There is no option of keeping our heads down that would make us safe. The problem would merely get worse, as it has done over recent months, not just for us but for Europe and the rest of the world. We cannot just walk on by if we are to keep this country safe. We have to confront this menace.
Step by step, we must drive back, dismantle and ultimately destroy ISIL and what it stands for. We will do so in a calm and deliberate way, but with an iron determination. We will not do so on our own, but by working closely with our allies, not just the United States and in Europe, but also in the region because this organisation poses a massive threat to the entire Middle East.
Cameron said that the British government will back the Iraqi government and arm the Kurds, work with the United Nations, support U.S. airstrikes, continue its humanitarian aid and protect citizens against terrorism within the UK — all largely things the government already does.
Some critics were looking for a more definite commitment that the British military would play a larger role in the airstrikes the U.S. is planning.
Sir Richard Dannatt, former head of the British army, said on Sunday that the government should be taking military action against the militants before the ISIL threat snowballs.
"If we don't confront and destroy these Islamic State Jihadi fighters then their influence will grow, their confidence will grow and the problem will get bigger," he told Sky News.