Military is playing ‘major role’ in Isil campaign

DEFENCE Michael Fallon
DEFENCE Michael Fallon
Charles Meacock with his daughter Kate Meacock and son-in-law Peter Stewart with high speed launch HLS102. Charles served on HLS122 during the second world war'Picture: Vernon Nash (180395-003)

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DEFENCE secretary Michael Fallon has hit back at claims the UK’s contribution to the fight against Islamic State has been ‘modest’.

It comes after a number of Royal Navy warships have been involved in protecting US Navy assets launching air strikes in the Gulf.

But the Defence Select Committee has issued a report saying the UK should do more.

Mr Fallon said: ‘The report recognises the UK is right to respond actively to the threat posed by Isil but we reject the committee’s conclusion that we are making a “strikingly modest” contribution. We have played a major role in the military campaign from the start and have conducted 194 airstrikes in Iraq, second only to the US.

‘Throughout the campaign we have focused our military contribution where it can have the most impact – supporting Iraqi forces from the air, providing vital intelligence, surveillance and air-to-air refuelling capabilities.

‘The RAF has contributed assets that few coalition partners can match and the US and other partners have acknowledged the impact these are having on the campaign.

‘The UK now has over 600 military personnel supporting operations, including over 140 in Iraq. We have trained over 1,000 Iraqi ground forces and have gifted around 400 tonnes of equipment and ammunition. As a world leader in countering improvised explosive devices (C-IED) we are leading the coordination of the coalition’s C-IED training programme.’