More British troops to deploy to Iraq in final push against IS

The extra troops will be joining those already at Al Asad airbase. Credit: AP Photo/Brennan Linsley

Additional British troops are being deployed to Iraq in a fresh bid to wipe out so-called Islamic State forces in the area.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said 44 Royal Engineers are being sent to Al Asad airbase in Anbar province, western Iraq, as Britain steps up its contribution to helping local forces defeat the threat IS poses.

IS, also known as Daesh, has been on the verge of collapse in Iraq losing strongholds such as Mosul and Tal Afar to Iraqi forces in recent weeks and it is hoped the bolstering of British troops will bring the group's defeat "a step closer".

Last month a US-led coalition confirmed that troops have ousted so-called Islamic State from their former stronghold of Mosul. Credit: AP

Sir Michael's announcement of extra troops being deployed will see the number of British personnel at the Al Asad airbase rise to more than 300 and the total in Iraq to around 600 as final attempts are made to drive IS out.

The Defence Secretary said: "Daesh is being defeated. Iraqi forces, backed by coalition airstrikes, have now liberated 70% of the territory Daesh held and the victims of its barbarism are being helped by our humanitarian support.

"These extra troops will help support operations to bring the defeat of Daesh a step closer."

The role of the extra troops will be to help build infrastructure at the airbase. Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

The extra troops being deployed are from the 5 Armoured Engineer Squadron, 22 Engineer Regiment, in Tidworth and are expected to be stationed in Iraq for six months.

The role of the extra troops will be to build infrastructure, including accommodation and offices at the Al Asad airbase which is a key camp for a coalition of Iraqi, US, Danish and British troops.

The base is around 100 miles west of Baghdad and has been used by the British to train and mentor Iraqi forces taking on IS jihadis.

British soldiers have also been involved in providing security at the international base since the UK's combat role in Iraq ended in April 2009.

Around 120,000 members of the British armed forces and civilians served in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003 and up until 2009 and during that time 79 UK troops were killed.