UK's role in fighting against ISIL criticised

Defence Committee MPs urge country's forces to play more effective role in fighting ISIL

Defence Committee MPs urge country's forces to play more effective role in fighting ISIL

LONDON - British Defence Committee parliamentarians have called on the country to take a greater role in the fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria.

The committee said in its latest report on Thursday that the UK had the "expertise and resources to play a much larger role in analysing the ISIL threat, contributing the plan to defeat them, supporting the Iraqi forces, and encouraging a political solution".

Pointing out there was not a need for combat troops to be deployed on the ground in the region, MPs said that there were many areas where the U.K. could assist in defeating ISIL.

British MPs criticised service chiefs, saying the committee was "shocked by the inability or unwillingness of any of the service chiefs to provide a clear, and articulate statement of the U.K.'s objectives or strategic plan in Iraq".

- Safe havens

They also underscored the U.K. had only conducted six percent of the air-strikes carried out against ISIL in coalition operations.

In order for U.K. to fight ISIL more effectively, the Defence Committee recommended: "Once the Iraqi Security Forces and the Peshmerga show increased capability and are ready for major offensives against ISIL, the UK should be prepared to provide an increased level of support to those operations from the air". 

The committee said UK forces should also "significantly increase diplomatic and defence engagement with the key regional powers - particularly Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Iran - to develop a much more detailed understanding of the potential benefits and challenges of a regional solution".

Committee Chairman Rory Stewart highlighted that ISIL controls "territory equivalent to the size of the UK", had displaced millions of people from their homes, threatened neighbouring states, and provided safe-havens to an estimated 20,000 foreign fighters.

- 'Modest role'

He added: "Yet, the role that the UK is playing in combating it is strikingly modest."

"There are dozens of things the UK could be doing, without deploying combat troops, to work with coalition partners to help address one of the most extreme threats that we have faced in the last 20 years".

Britain takes part only in the Iraq operations of the international coalition against ISIL.

Its forces have bombed several ISIL targets in northern Iraq which pose a threat to Kurdish areas from September 2014 onwards.

The U.K. announced in October last year that British troops were providing military training to Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the region.

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