Prime Minister Calls for De-Escalation in Iran

Boris Johnson, the Prime Minister, has issued a joint statement with the leaders of France and Germany on the current situation in Iran. His announcement comes after the threat of violence and military action by Iran and the United States increased.

Johnson and the other leaders said:

“We have condemned the recent attacks on coalitions forces in Iraq and are gravely concerned by the negative role Iran has played in the region, including through the IRGC and the Al-Qods force under the command of General Soleimani.

There is now an urgent need for de-escalation. We call on all parties to exercise utmost restraint and responsibility. The current cycle of violence in Iraq must be stopped.”

Prime Minister Meets with Iraqi President, Barham Salih

Theresa May, the Prime Minister, has met with Barham Salih, the tenth President of Iraq, in Downing Street in London. The two leaders discussed the current security situation in the country and in the wider region.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister said:

“The Prime Minister hosted Iraqi President Barham Salih in Downing Street today as part of his Guest of Government visit to the UK.

The leaders began by discussing security cooperation, and the Prime Minister reaffirmed the UK’s commitment to supporting the Iraqi Government in building a stable and successful nation.

They acknowledged the ongoing threat posed by Daesh, and the Prime Minister said the UK stood ready to provide further support to the Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish Peshmerga.

They discussed recent events in the Gulf and agreed on the importance of international cooperation in the de-escalation of current tensions.

They also welcomed opportunities to expand on the bilateral trading relationship and the Prime Minister reiterated the desire of the UK to increase investment in Iraq.”

Government Reports Progress Against Daesh

The Ministry of Defence has issued an update on the fight against Daesh and the air strikes which the UK is conducting in partnership with other nations. They confirmed that progress is being made and that Daesh are being driven back in both Iraq and Syria.

The department said in a statement:

“With Daesh having suffered major defeats in both Iraq and Syria, Royal Air Force missions continue daily, focused on armed reconnaissance to identify remaining terrorist locations and support, as necessary, clearance operations on the ground by Iraqi troops and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

The SDF have continued their operations against extremists south-east of Al Mayadin, in eastern Syria, and an RAF Reaper provided close air support to them on Thursday 16 November. The first terrorist threat that the Reaper’s crew identified was a vehicle being driven at very high speed towards the SDF positions. Fearing this to be a probable truck-bomb, the Reaper’s crew tracked the lorry, ready to engage. However, no intervention was necessary, as the driver lost control of the vehicle, which crashed off the road and promptly exploded; it had indeed been a truck-bomb. The Reaper subsequently spotted a group of terrorists opening fire on the SDF; a GBU-12 guided bomb quickly eliminated this threat.

On Saturday 18 November, Tornados from RAF Akrotiri patrolled over north-west Iraq. Another coalition aircraft identified a Daesh truck, loaded with equipment, concealed under cover some 35 miles west of Sharaq. The Tornados were requested to conduct an attack with the very precise Brimstone missile, and did so successfully, destroying the vehicle.

Intelligence identified a complex of buildings in northern Iraq, some 30 miles west of Sharqat, as a truck-bomb factory. Two Typhoons bombed the target site with six Paveway IV guided bombs on Wednesday 22 November; two weapons demolished a large workshop, while single bombs dealt with the four other, smaller buildings”.

Gordon Brown Reveals that Information on WMDs was Inaccurate

Gordon Brown, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister, has written in his memoirs that the British Government was misled over the scale of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Brown wrote that the United States didn’t pass on information that their intelligence had received which questioned the scale of the weapons that Saddam Hussein possessed.

Brown wrote:

“If I am right that somewhere within the American system the truth about Iraq’s lack of weapons was known, then we were not just misinformed but misled on the critical issue”.

He also noted that he only became aware of the situation after he had left office in 2010. Brown also said that the UK may not have become involved in military action with Iraq if the US intelligence had been passed on.

Foreign Secretary Issues a Statement on Kurdish Referendum

Boris Johnson, the Foreign Secretary, has issued a statement following a referendum in the Kurdish territory of Iraq. The referendum will not be binding, although 80% of those entitled to vote have reportedly voted. The vote is expected to be strongly in favour of an independent Kurdish state, although this is likely to be rejected by the international community.

Johnson said in the statement:

“The UK does not support this referendum and continues to back the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. We believe that any referendum should be agreed with the Government of Iraq.

With our international allies, we proposed an alternative plan which would have seen negotiations take place between the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to address all issues of dispute. This alternative would have given the opportunity for the aspirations of the Kurdish people to be met. It is regrettable that a part of the Kurdish leadership rejected the proposal.

The long-term security and prosperity of Iraq and Iraqis can only be met through dialogue and cooperation. I urge all sides to refrain from provocative statements and actions in the aftermath of the referendum. The priority must remain the defeat of Daesh and returning stability to liberated areas”.

Government Says that it will bring Daesh Members to Justice

Alistair Burt, the Minister for the Middle East, has signed a United Nations Security Council resolution which aims to bring Daesh members to justice. The resolution will allow investigations to take place in Iraq to gain evidence for the crimes committed by Daesh, with a new UN adviser being appointed to hold members of the group accountable.

Burt said in a statement:

“There can never be adequate recompense for those who were forced to endure the wanton brutality of Daesh, and the dead will not be brought back, but this Resolution means that the international community is united in our belief that there should, at least, be accountability for those who perpetrated such wicked acts.

The United Nations will now help to gather and preserve evidence of Daesh’s crimes in Iraq and I can announce that Britain will provide £1 million to establish the UN investigative team that will lead these efforts – and I would respectfully encourage other countries to contribute”.

British Government Welcomes Liberation of Mosul

Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary, has welcomed the liberation of Mosul from ISIS control. The news comes after Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi Prime Minister, confirmed that his country’s forces has regained control of the entire city.

Patel said in a statement:

“The liberation of Mosul after two years of Daesh brutality and oppression comes at a high price for both the Iraqi Security Forces and the city’s people and I pay tribute to the tenacity and courage they have shown. Throughout this struggle, UK aid provided shelter, medical care, clean water and other lifesaving aid to those who have lost their homes because of the fighting or been forced to flee the city for safety.

The declaration that Mosul is once again free is a great victory for the people of Iraq, but it must now be backed up by the painstaking task of rebuilding and reconciling so families can return home as quickly as possible. The UK will continue to stand alongside the people of Iraq to take this vital work forward in the weeks and months ahead – and helping to shore up stability and security across the region is ultimately in our national interest as well”.

Haider al-Abadi said:

“I announce from here the end and the failure and the collapse of the terrorist state of falsehood and terrorism which the terrorist Daesh announced from Mosul”.

Ministry of Defence Confirm British Soldier Has Died in Iraq

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that a British soldier has died in Iraq, but said that it wasn’t due to enemy action. It is thought that the soldier was one of 500 British military personnel who are in the country to train the Iraqi security forces.

In a statement the department said:

“It is with regret that the Ministry of Defence must announce the death of a soldier from the 2nd Battalion the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.

The death occurred in Taji, Iraq following an incident that is currently under investigation, but we can confirm that it was not as a result of enemy activity.

The family has been informed and has requested a period of grace before the name is released”.

Former PM Tony Blair Calls for Ground Troops to Defeat ISIS

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Tony Blair, the Prime Minister from 1997 until 2007, has called on ground forces to be used to defeat ISIS in Syria and Iraq. He fell short of saying that British and allied countries should send troops on the front line but he said that they could support local military forces.

Blair said at a conference in London:

“There is no way of defeating these people without defeating them on the ground. Air strikes are not going to defeat Isis, they have got to be tackled on the ground,” he said at the event in Westminster”.

He added:

“You have got to defeat these people on the ground. The armed forces of America, the UK, France, other major countries have both experience and capability so even if we are using them in support of local forces, you have just got to decide what our objective is. Is our objective to defeat this enemy? My answer to that is yes”.

Blair didn’t comment on the Chilcot Report, which is to be published next month, but he said on the invasion of Iraq over which he presided:

“We underestimated profoundly the forces that were at work in the region and that would take advantage of the change once you topple the regime”.

British Government issues statement on air raids in Iraq

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The Government has issued a statement on air raids on ISIS targets in Iraq which have taken place in recent days.

The statement, issued today, is:

“ISIL terrorists in Iraq have suffered further losses from precision air strikes conducted by the Royal Air Force.

RAF aircraft flying as part of the coalition campaign against ISIL have maintained intensive armed reconnaissance missions, striking a number of terrorist targets in the last few days. On Tuesday 17 November, Tornado GR4s from RAF Akrotiri provided close air support to Iraqi ground forces closing in on Ramadi. Our aircraft conducted three successful attacks with Paveway IV guided bombs, destroying an improvised artillery piece – a so-called “Hell Cannon” – and two heavy machine-gun positions. Support was also given to the Kurdish forces as they exploited their recent victory at Sinjar, and on Thursday, Tornados used a Paveway to destroy a Da’ish sniper position which had opened fire on Kurdish troops, then scored a direct hit with a Brimstone missile on a terrorist vehicle near Sinjar. The same day saw a Reaper flying overwatch for Iraqi troops further south, and it successfully struck a group of terrorists with a Hellfire missile.

Reapers conducted three strikes on Friday 20 November: two Hellfires destroyed an armed pick-up truck and a terrorist check-point, whilst a GBU-12 guided bomb eliminated a large group of terrorists gathered at a weapons cache. Two more ISIL check-points were struck by a Reaper over northern Iraq on Saturday, while on Sunday 22 November, Tornado GR4s attacked a Da’ish vehicle armed with an anti-aircraft gun and a stockpile of home-made explosives, destroying both with Paveways.

Vital support is provided to the strike missions by RAF Voyager air tankers, Sentinel and Air Seeker surveillance aircraft. On the ground, British military instructors continue to provide training to Iraqi and Kurdish troops as part of the large coalition programme to help train and equip the Iraqi security forces”.