Britain to ‘step up role’ as ISIL retreats, defence secretary says

Sir Michael Fallon warned that the fight against ISIL is not over

Britain's Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, addresses members of the media during a joint UK/Poland press conference in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Thursday, Oct. 12, 2017 in London. The UK and Poland held bilateral talks in Westminster, covering issues such as European security and military co-operation. (Leon Neal/Pool Photo via AP)
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The retreat of ISIL across Iraq and Syria is not a moment to pause the coalition’s advances, the British defence secretary warned.

Sir Michael Fallon said the UK would be stepping up its role as the fight against ISIL evolves.

“The fight against [ISIL]’s reign of terror is not over and as the nature of the Coalition campaign changes, the role we play must adapt too,” he said.

“By training Iraq forces we are helping with the long-term stability of the country and our own security here at home.”


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UK forces deployed at Iraq’s Al Asad air base will train further forward and provide enhanced protection for British personnel in coalition bases as the terrorist group continues its retreat across Iraq and Syria, according to a government statement.

2 Rifles, currently based at Al Asad providing infantry, counter-IED and combat medical training to the Iraqi Security Forces, will now patrol outside the base perimeter.

The UK is also deploying a further team of British military medical personnel to Al-Asad to provide treatment to coalition forces. Medical support is a “top priority” for the coalition, the statement added.

The campaign to defeat ISIL in Iraq has entered its final phase following the liberation of Mosul, Hawija and the Ninewah province from its control. Iraqi Security Forces are now advancing across Anbar province, clearing ISIL positions in the Euphrates River Valley.

Over 600 British soldiers are on the ground in Iraq, helping to train the country’s forces. UK troops have so far helped train over 58,000 Iraqi Security Forces.

In addition to personnel on the ground in Iraq, RAF aircraft have carried out over 1,600 strikes against ISIL.

The UK’s commitment from all three services to the fight against ISIL across the region now numbers just over 1,400 military personnel.