'British Troops Fighting IS Should Receive Medal'

British servicemen and women serving against the Islamic State should receive a special service medal, according to the Shadow Defence Secretary Nia Griffith.

The Labour MP has called for a specific award for those who have served in Operation Shader, a campaign of airstrikes against IS in Iraq and Syria.

In an exclusive interview with Forces News, Ms Griffith said:

"I think there has been a slight lack of understanding by many people here in the UK of how much work is going on (...) It's now time on Operation Shader that the committee did come to a conclusion and did award a specific medal."

Griffith has added that a medal is a "lasting" recognition for all servicemen and women and their families.

The Shadow Defence Secretary has advanced the proposal after visiting troops deployed on Operation Shader and speaking to armed forces based at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus.

The issue is now under review by the Operational Recognition Board at the Permanent Joint Headquarters.

Speaking at defence questions last week, Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said that as as soon as "a decision is made on the appropriate medallic recognition for Operation Shader, an announcement will be made".

Some critics have said the government should be providing more support to serving families and veterans, instead of focusing on an award.

Some of the medals exhibited at the RAF museum
Some of the medals exhibited at the RAF museum

Operation Shader started in September 2014 and since then a Reaper Remotely Piloted aircraft, six Typhoon jets and eight Tornados have been deployed.

The RAF has conducted more than 1,253 strikes in Iraq and 85 in Syria, a number second only to the US.

Alongside the air campaign, British troops have provided advanced intelligence and trained nearly seven thousand Peshmerga fighters in Iraq.

The coalition says it has destroyed $800 million of IS cash and liberated two million people across nearly nine thousand square miles of territory.

Following additional deployments, about 1,350 new UK personnel will support Counter-Daesh operations in the next months.

The MoD says Op Shader has cost the UK taxpayers £265 million so far.