Live updates

Labour: We need clarity on Iraq deployment timetable

Shadow defence secretary Vernon Coaker said tonight it supports the steps taken by the international coalition to assist in the fight against Isis, but called for the government to provide clarity on the timescale for the deployment of UK forces.

Labour supports the steps taken by the international coalition to assist Iraq’s government in responding to ISIL. It is right that the UK's Armed Forces continue to provide training and equipment in support of this effort.

The government should provide clarity about the scale, scope and timeframe of the deployment of these further trainers. 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 British troops in Iraq.

– Vernon Coaker MP

Additional British troops to be sent to Iraq on training mission

File photo dated 09/12/06 of British Army soldiers Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire

An extra deployment of British troops numbering in the "low hundreds" will be sent to Iraq next month to help train local military units battling Islamic State militants, the Defence Secretary has announced.

Michael Fallon said details of the contribution to an international mission were still being finalised but would probably include a small protection contingent of combat-ready British soldiers at four US-led "safe" centres.

RAF planes have been heavily involved for several months in air strikes and reconnaissance missions across Iraq which have forced IS fighters to switch tactics and lay low in towns and villages - requiring a ground offensive, Mr Fallon told the Telegraph.

The move represents a significant swelling of the 50-strong British force presently engaged in preparing Iraqi and Kurdish fighters for a new phase of the fight to retake swathes of territory seized by the jihadis.

A big element of the UK contribution will be passing on the experience gained during the 13-year war with the Taliban in Afghanistan in dealing with roadside bombs and other explosive devices, Mr Fallon suggested.

Advertisement

Former soldier 'fighting with Kurds against Isis in Syria'

A former soldier is thought to be among a growing number of Brits joining the fight against Isis inside Syria. Pictures and videos suggest that James Hughes, from Reading, is in Rojava, northern Syria, helping to defend the beleaguered city of Kobani. Correspondent Dan Rivers reports.

Royal Air Force to fly surveillance drones over Syria

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that the RAF will fly surveillance drones over Syria as part of their efforts to defeat Islamic State fighters in the area.

An RAF Reaper. Credit: MoD

The MoD said the missions will be for intelligence gathering.

UK Reaper remotely piloted aircraft systems and Rivet Joint aircraft will be authorised to fly surveillance missions over Syria.

The deployment will see the Royal Air Force aircraft gathering intelligence as the UK ramps up efforts to protect our national interests from the terrorist threat emanating the country.

Reapers are not authorised to use weapons in Syria and, alongside Rivet Joint, will provide vital situational awareness making it an invaluable asset to the coalition allies who are combating ISIL.

– Ministry of Defence

Advertisement

Islamic State fighters gain more ground in northern Iraq

Kurdish Peshmerga troops engage ISIS forces in northern Iraq Credit: Reuters

Militants from the Islamic State have made further ground in northern Iraq, seizing more towns after residents fled the area in fear.

Iraq’s largest Christian town, Qaraqosh, was seized by the Jihadists after Kurdish troops were forced into a hasty retreat, according to AFP.

The towns are among many in the area where thousands of Christians who were forced to abandon their homes in the main northern city of Mosul last month had found refuge.

Load more updates