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UK to provide further support to forces fighting ISIL

5 November 2014

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has announced that the UK plans to offer Iraqi forces more training.

During a visit to Iraq today, 5 November, the Defence Secretary announced that the UK is planning to offer advisory personnel to Iraqi headquarters as well as providing additional training to Peshmerga fighters.

In his first trip to the country as Secretary of State for Defence, Mr Fallon held talks in Baghdad with the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi and National Security Adviser Fallah al Fayyad before flying north to Erbil.

There he met with the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government Masoud Barzani and Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani.

Mr Fallon also visited trainers from the British armed forces who are instructing Peshmerga fighters on how to use the heavy machine guns gifted by the UK.

He discussed the ongoing support the UK is providing to the Iraqi military, including Kurdish forces, as part of the broad international coalition which is focussed on pushing back ISIL.

While in Iraq, the Defence Secretary reaffirmed the UK's intention to provide counter-improvised explosive device training to Iraqi forces as well as a contribution of advisory personnel to headquarters as part of a future package of support aimed at bolstering their ability to tackle ISIL.

Mr Fallon also announced that the UK would be increasing its current training offer to the Kurds, to include infantry skills such as sharp-shooting and first aid, alongside the provision of further equipment.

The Government remains clear that no ground combat troops will be deployed to Iraq.

Mr Fallon said:

'Iraqi forces are spearheading efforts to push back ISIL and their violent and repellent ideology.'

'The UK, as part of the international coalition, is already taking part in airstrikes across Iraq and carrying out training for Kurdish forces in the north of the country.'

He continued:

'It is right that we do more to help Iraqi forces take the fight to ISIL on the ground which is why the UK is offering the further training, support and assistance I have outlined today.'

The UK is also preparing to increase the number of Reaper remotely piloted aircraft in the region to provide further intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assistance to Iraqi forces in support of coalition and national interests.

En route to Iraq, Michael Fallon also met with counterparts in Qatar to discuss the role both countries are playing to tackle extremist groups.

While meeting with the country's Minister of Defence, Major General Hamad Bin Ali Al Attiyah, Mr Fallon welcomed Qatar's recent legislation to prevent terrorist funding in the country after the Prime Minister welcomed the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to the UK last week.

The trip also provided an opportunity for the Defence Secretary to meet with allies in Kuwait to discuss regional security.

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