British Army trainers and Iraqi security forces personnel in Besmaya range Iraq
Middle East

UK Reviewing 'Force Protection' In Middle East After US Air Strike Kills Top Iran General

The UK currently has around 400 British Army personnel in Iraq, as well as Royal Navy ships deployed to the Gulf.

British Army trainers and Iraqi security forces personnel in Besmaya range Iraq

The UK is reviewing its "force protection" in the Middle East, following the death of a top Iranian general in a US air strike.

Around 400 British Army personnel are deployed in Iraq, across three bases - Camp Taji near Baghdad, Union III in Baghdad, and Erbil in Iraqi Kurdistan. 

The UK also has six Royal Navy ships in the Gulf - Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender, Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose and four minehunters.  

UK troops are in the country in a non-combat role, training the Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish Security Forces who are tackling the threat of so-called Islamic State.

Iran has warned the US of "severe revenge" for the attack, while Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has called on "all parties to de-escalate".

General Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran's elite Quds Force that spearheaded military operations in the Middle East, was killed in a drone strike at Baghdad airport on Friday morning. 

The US said Gen Soleimani was targeted because he was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members" in the region.

In a statement, Mr Raab called for calm but said the Government had "always recognised the aggressive threat posed by the Iranian Quds Force led" by the general.

"Following his death, we urge all parties to de-escalate," Mr Raab said.

"Further conflict is in none of our interests."

General Qassem Soleimani 270718 CREDIT PA .jpg
General Qassem Soleimani was killed on Friday morning (Picture: PA).

The Foreign Secretary spoke to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Friday, with Mr Pompeo outlining the United States' commitment to de-escalation.

Meanwhile, Labour leadership hopeful Clive Lewis warned the "violent escalation in an already volatile region is a mistake".

"I call on the PM to condemn this cowboy action & turn immediately to our international institutions to try & de-escalate any war with Iran," the former shadow defence secretary tweeted.

"The UK must now lead in being a broker for peace."

Current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has also had his say, ordering the Government to stand up to the "belligerent actions and rhetoric" from the US.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has been celebrating the New Year in the Carribean, is yet to comment.

Cover Image: British troops training Iraqi personnel in 2017 (Picture: US Department of Defense).