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UK announces expansion of its anti-ISIL training effort in Iraq

By U.S. Central Command Public Affairs

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LONDON, June 8, 2015 -- The United Kingdom's prime minister authorized the deployment of up to 125 additional British troops to Iraq where they would join the coalition countering Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists as the UK government steps up its efforts to provide training to Iraqi forces.

According to a statement on the UK defense ministry's website, the decision stems from a request by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi for additional international support in the fight against ISIL and UK National Security Council discussions on what more the country should do to protect itself from terrorism by confronting ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to discuss the efforts of the counter-ISIL coalition in meetings this weekend with President Obama and Prime Minister Abadi, and Cameron is also expected to discuss with Obama the efforts to train moderate Syrian opposition forces, the UK defense ministry statement said.

The UK has decided to focus its efforts in Iraq on areas where it brings particular expertise or capabilities, the defense ministry said. "As the second largest contributor to the coalition, intelligence and surveillance assets are already watching the skies over Iraq and providing vital information for Iraqi forces on the ground."

Most of the new British troops will focus on counter improvised explosive device, or IED, training, while others will provide Iraqis with training in other critical skills, such as medical; equipment maintenance; information operations; and maneuver support for bridging and crossing trenches.

"The counter-IED training targets a particular tactic used by ISIL terrorists who are well known for their intensive use of explosives when retreating," the defense ministry statement. "Upskilling the Iraqi security forces in this area will allow them to clear territory safely and return it to local people who have been displaced and unable to return to their homes."

In addition to supporting coalition training efforts, the UK is one of nine countries that have participated in coalition airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq.