UK & World News

  • 18 August 2014, 21:56

Cameron: 'We Are Not Going To War In Iraq'

David Cameron has insisted that Britain will not be getting involved in a war in Iraq to fight "monstrous" jihadists.

He spoke out after reports Britain had briefly sent some ground troops to Irbil, to prepare the way for a rescue mission to help displaced Yazidi people.

His comments came amid reports that Kurdish troops have retaken large parts of the strategic Mosul Dam from Islamist militants.

Peshmerga fighters have been battling Islamic State fighters, with the aid of US airstrikes, after the dam was seized by the militants 10 days ago.

The Islamic State group denied they had lost control of the dam and there were reports of fierce fighting on the southern side of the facility.

At least 170 bombs have been dismantled around the dam but many more remain, said army spokesman Lt Gen Qassim al-Moussawi.

 Army spokesmna Arr AAA Al-Moussawi said forces had "hoisted the Iraqi flag over" the dam, which holds great strategic value, supplying water and electricity to much of the country.

This morning, Mr Cameron made a strongly worded statement amid confusion over the UK's involvement in Iraq after a series of media interviews by senior ministers. 

He said: "I want to be absolutely clear to you and to families watching at home. Britain is not going to get involved in another war in Iraq.

"We are not going to be putting boots on the ground. We are not going to be sending in the British Army."

Mr Cameron has previously conceded that Britain's role will go beyond humanitarian aid and involve limited action to prevent violence spreading to British streets.

But he said: "So we are helping the Kurds, we are working with the Iraqi government to make sure it is more representative of the whole country.

"We do want to have, and we do have, a fully worked through strategy for helping allies to deal with this monstrous organisation, IS."

Mr Cameron appeared on television after Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the UK's Iraq mission would likely last "weeks and months".

Mr Fallon was addressing British troops in Cyprus as it emerged that UK soldiers have been back on the ground in Iraq for the first time since 2009.

The soldiers, from the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire regiment, were briefly sent to Irbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdistan region, to prepare the way for a Yazidi rescue mission.

It is understood the rescue operation would involve Chinook helicopters and the ground troops remained in the country for only 24 hours.

Sky News Political Correspondent Anushka Asthana said the UK's position on Iraq was "a little confusing" after various newspaper and TV interviews by the PM and Mr Fallon.

Asthana said some had interpreted the PM's commitment to providing more than humanitarian aid in Iraq as meaning there would be military action.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said discussions with the Kurdish regional government were focusing on what weapons to supply Kurdish troops.

Islamic State militants have so far killed dozens of Kurdish peshmerga fighters and captured 170 of them, a Twitter site that supports the group said on Monday.

Kurdish officials will take part in negotiations on forming a new Iraqi government, according to the outgoing foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari.

It paves the way for improved ties between Kurds and the central administration.

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