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US sending 'special targeting force' to Iraq to help fight IS

A 2014 file photo of Islamic State militants driving a captured tank. Credit: Reuters

The United States is sending a "specialized expeditionary targeting force" to help Iraqi forces tackle so-called Islamic State militants.

The Pentagon says the team of "special operators" will also be cleared to take part in raids inside Syria - including hostage rescue and capture missions.

"These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence, and capture ISIL [Islamic State] leaders," US defence secretary Ashton Carter told the House Armed Services Committee.

  1. West Country (E)

Wiltshire Police not receiving 999 calls because of 'technical difficulties'

Wiltshire Police are not currently taking 999 calls. Credit: PA Images

Wiltshire Police are not receiving 999 calls because of 'technical difficulties' on their call systems.

Calls to the emergency number are currently being re-routed to Gloucestershire Police and the public are also being asked not to call the 101 non-emergency number because no calls are being connected.

The police are asking the public to only use the 999 number for emergencies and to check on elderly and vulnerable neighbours within their communities.

BBC evacuated over 'suspicious vehicle' nearby

Staff at the BBC's New Broadcasting House and a number of other London offices were briefly evacuated due to a suspicious vehicle.

The Metropolitan Police said the alert, which is now over, was not specific to the BBC, and related to a vehicle parked on nearby Regent's Street.

BBC staff at the scene posted pictures of police cordons around the building, its headquarters in the capital.


Newcastle fire brought under control after several hours

Firefighters tackle the blaze from on high. Credit: PA

A fire in central Newcastle is now under control, but it remains unclear whether any people are trapped inside.

The building will now be assessed by structural experts, who will check whether it is safe for firefighters to enter, Tyne and Wear Fire Service said.

If deemed safe, they will then enter to check if there are any casualties.

The service earlier said it could not guarantee there were no people inside the building.

Senior military chief outlines benefits of airstrikes in Syria

One of Britain's most senior military leaders has outlined his arguments for why MPs should support plans to join airstrikes in Syria.

Speaking to the government's defence committee, Lt Gen Gordon Messenger, the deputy chief of defence staff, said bombs would help destabilise militants affiliated with the so-called Islamic State.

It's about targeting their vulnerabilities, their command and control, their leadership, their sources of revenue, their training camps - the places where they feel most secure.

The majority of that is inside Syria and is centred on Raqqa.

– Lt General Gordon Messenger, deputy chief of defence staff
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