What is the difference?
- No UN mandate, but Iraq has asked for help, so no need for one there. Syria has not asked for help. Which leads to the next difference.
- Dropping bombs in Syria means complicity with Assad. This may be a bridge too far for many democracies. Being kind of complicit with Iran by helping the Shia-dominated government of Iraq may be ok-ish.
- Syria is riskier because there are anti-aircraft defenses still intact. Thus far, Assad has not turned them on, but that could change in the flick of a switch.
- We probably have less good intel in Syria so bombing may produce more civilian casualties there, so again riskier.
- For the British, they had a failed vote on Syria last year, so Cameron did not want to revisit it.