UK troop numbers boosted in final push to wipe out IS from Iraq

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British troop numbers in Iraq are being bolstered as the fight to wipe out Islamic State (IS) in the country enters its final push, the Defence Secretary has announced.

Some 44 Royal Engineers are being sent to Al Asad airbase in Anbar province, western Iraq, Sir Michael Fallon said.

It takes the number of British personnel at the camp to more than 300 and the total in Iraq to around 600.

Islamic State has already lost control of Mosul. (AP)
Islamic State has already lost control of Mosul. (AP)

IS, also known as Isis and Daesh, has been on the verge of collapse in Iraq, losing control of strongholds including the city of Mosul.

On Thursday, Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi said the group had been ousted from the north-west town of Tal Afar.

Troops from 5 Armoured Engineer Squadron, 22 Engineer Regiment, in Tidworth are being deployed for six months to build infrastructure, including accommodation and offices in the coalition forces camp.

The sprawling Al Asad air base, around 100 miles west of Baghdad, houses Iraqi, US, Danish and British troops.

Armoured Engineer Squadron soldiers at Swindon Barracks in Tidworth. (Ben Birchall/PA)
Armoured Engineer Squadron soldiers at Swindon Barracks in Tidworth. (Ben Birchall/PA)

It has been used by the British to train and mentor Iraqi forces taking on IS jihadis, with soldiers also involved in providing security at the international base.

RAF aircraft based in Akrotiri, Cyprus, meanwhile have carried out around 1,400 strikes against IS as part of the international effort to destroy the terror group.

Sir Michael said: "We are stepping up our contribution to the fight against Daesh and fulfilling Britain's role as a key player in the global coalition.

Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon. (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon. (Andrew Milligan/PA)

"Daesh is being defeated. Iraqi forces, backed by coalition air strikes, 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."

Around 120,000 members of the British armed forces and civilians served in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003, but the UK's combat role ended in April 2009.

During the operation, 179 UK troops were killed.