UK to send additional trainers to Iraq in January 2015

14 December 2014 (Last Updated December 14th, 2014 18:30)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is planning to deploy additional military personnel to Iraq next year to train the Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces to fight the Islamic State (IS) militants.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is planning to deploy additional military personnel to Iraq next year to train the Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces to fight the Islamic State (IS) militants.

UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was quoted by The Telegraph as saying that the soldiers would be deployed at four US military training centres located in Kurdish territory and the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad.

"So the training we are going to be offering in January will be in infantry skills and some of the basics but particularly on how you deal with IEDs, given all the lessons we have learnt from Afghanistan," Fallon said.

"This has to be done by a home-grown army, not by western groups."

"We are now looking to help them with that equipment and to run training with them in the four main training centres that the Americans are establishing."

A MoD spokesman said: "No decisions on troop numbers, units or locations have yet been made."

However, Fallon said they will be in the 'very low hundreds' and could also include a small force protection unit to defend UK trainers, if necessary.

A small team of 50 UK soldiers is already training Iraqi forces and Kurdish fighters to operate the UK-supplied heavy machine guns.

Since September, the UK Royal Air Force aircraft are also conducting airstrikes against the extremists, who currently control large areas of Syria and Iraq.

Fallon said the air strikes have forced terrorists to change their tactics and hide in towns and villages, meaning the ground forces should draw them out.

"This has to be done by a home-grown army, not by western groups," Fallon added.

The Iraqi army has faltered against the terrorist group, despite being trained by the UK and coalition forces before their pull out from the country in 2011.

The Labour Party has supported the move, but asked the government to share details about the steps taken to help Iraq's Government in responding to IS.

Shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker said: "The defence secretary should clearly outline the numbers of military trainers involved and the work that they will be doing, so that there can be no misunderstanding about the role of UK troops in Iraq."

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