Iraq

UK To Increase Military Training Presence In Iraq

It follows the decision by NATO defence ministers to send about 3,500 extra troops to the country.

The number of British troops providing training to forces in Iraq will increase, the Ministry of Defence has confirmed.

It follows the decision by NATO defence ministers to send about 3,500 extra troops to Iraq, in a major boost to its counter-terrorism training mission in the country.

The UK's current contribution to training on the ground in Iraq, as part of a global coalition and separate to the NATO mission, is about 100 soldiers.

The NATO strategy aims to increase stability there and to help prepare local security forces for the fight against terrorist groups like Islamic State (IS).

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace confirmed to fellow NATO defence ministers that the UK will scale up its own commitment in line with the alliance's expansion in Iraq.

It is more than two years since IS was pronounced as 'defeated'.

NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained why thousands of extra troops are being sent to Iraq: "That’s the best way we can prevent ISIS from returning."

International troops still face dangers – just days ago, a rocket attack on Irbil airport killed a US military contractor and injured several others including a US serviceman.

In March 2020, British reservist medic Brodie Gillon was killed by a rocket attack on Camp Taji, which has since closed as a western base.

There are also threats from Iran and Tehran-backed militias.

Jens Stoltenberg said: "Everything we do will, of course, focus on the importance of protection of our forces. Force protection and neighbours will be part of the increased NATO presence in Iraq."

Operation Shader – the air mission against IS – also remains active.

RAF Typhoons launched airstrikes against a terrorist encampment in Northern Iraq last week.

More than two years since IS's grip on the country ended, there is no end in sight to the UK's, or NATO's, military operations in Iraq.