Dozens More British troops head for Iraq to defeat Islamic State

September 1, 2017
| Report Focus News
BASRA, IRAQ, JULY 2: In this handout from the British Army, soldiers from the The Royal Welch Fusiliers mount helicopter borne Eagle VCP's (Vehicle Check Points), July 2, 2004 around the southern Iraqi town of Basra. Two teams of soldiers were deployed to various locations by RAF (Royal Air Force ) Chinook helicopters where they performed spot checks on passing traffic in an attempt to deter the possible smuggling of weapons and or contraband around areas of importance. In the days since Iraq achieved sovereign status there have been several attacks on oil pipelines and facilities in the region. (Photo by Giles Penfound/British Army via Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***

Dozens more British troops are to be sent to Iraq, the Defence Secretary has announced.

Forty-four Royal Engineers will be sent to Al Asad airbase in Anbar province, western Iraq, Sir Michael Fallon has confirmed.

The troops from 5 Armoured Engineer Squadron, 22 Engineer Regiment, in Tidworth will be in Iraq for six months to build infrastructure at the coalition camp.

Their deployment will take the number of British personnel at the camp to more than 300 and the total in Iraq to around 600.

The airbase is around 140 miles west of Baghdad and is home to troops from Iraq, the US, Denmark and the UK.

UK troops are there to train Iraqi forces, as they try to remove the last Islamic State fighters from their country.

IS once controlled around a third of Iraq but, having lost much of its territory in the past few months, it now controls barely 10%.

Earlier this year, Iraqi forces retook the former IS stronghold of Mosul and last week, they retook the northern city of Tal Afar and surrounding region of Nineveh.

Iraqi forces have also been steadily retaking the towns and cities of Anbar, which borders Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia, but IS still controls parts of the border with Syria.

Sir Michael said: “We are stepping up our contribution to the fight against Daesh (IS) and fulfilling Britain’s role as a key player in the global coalition.

“Daesh is being defeated.

“Iraqi forces, backed by coalition air strikes, have now liberated 70% of the territory Daesh held and the victims of its barbarism are being helped by our humanitarian support.

“These extra troops will help support operations to bring the defeat of Daesh a step closer.”

The UK ended its combat role in Iraq in 2009, six years after the US-led invasion.