The U.K. plans to send troops back to Iraq for the first time since 2009 to fight the Islamic State group, Prime Minister David Cameron said at the Group of Seven summit of economic powers in Germany Sunday. Britain’s “biggest challenge” is fighting extremist Islamist terror, particularly in Iraq and Syria, the prime minister said.
“We’re already the second-largest contributor in terms of airstrikes in Iraq and support for the Syrian opposition,” the Sun Nation in the U.K. quoted Cameron as saying after a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama. “But I’m announcing today that we’re increasing our training effort in Iraq with another 125 personnel, specifically focused on counter-IED [improvised explosive device] training for the Iraqi Army.”
The additional 125 troops will take the total number of U.K. military personnel involved in the battle against the militant group formerly known as either ISIL or ISIS to about 900. “I think it’s the right thing for Britain to do,” Cameron said.
Many of the new forces will help train Iraqi troops in handling the IEDs typically used by the Islamic State group. A few will provide logistics training, including medical and equipment maintenance. More than 1,000 Kurdish troops have previously been trained by the U.K. military.
“We already have quite a number of people in the Kurdish Regional Government. These people will be helping more broadly in Iraq,” Cameron said.
The British prime minister said the request for additional support in the fight against the Islamic State group was made by the Iraqi government. Both Cameron and Obama are expected to meet Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi Monday to discuss the struggle against the militant group.