UK deploys Tornado jets for surveillance mission in Iraq

UK deploys Tornado jets for surveillance mission in Iraq
Wed Aug 13, 2014 09:23:47

Britain is sending RAF Tornado jets in preparation for a surveillance mission scanning northern Iraq where military aid flights are dropping supplies to thousands of refugees fleeing ISIL terrorist group.

A No. 10 spokesperson said "a small number" of Tornado jets are pre-positioned in the region “so that they could, if required, use their excellent surveillance capability to gather better situational awareness to help with humanitarian effort,” following a meeting of the government's emergency COBRA, or Cabinet Office Briefing Room A, committee on Monday.

A Ministry of Defense spokesperson said that the jets, which are planned to be deployed within the next few days, “would not be used in a combat role.”

The jets would be equipped with hi-tech imaging equipment to help determine how many people are trapped on the mountain and where their exact locations are, to then find safe spots to drop off aid, the MoD said.

Speaking about a possible military intervention after the COBRA meeting, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said, “I don't think that's necessary at this time. We are talking about a humanitarian intervention.” He said he does not “envisage a combat role at the present time."

Hammond’s comments came as Andrew Rosindell, a Conservative MP, called for British airstrikes on ISIL targets. “I strongly believe that we should carry out immediate targeted air strikes to hold back attacks by Islamist insurgents; whilst making humanitarian aid drops to support groups fleeing from persecution,” he said.

A Downing Street spokeswomen also emphasized, "Our focus is very much on the humanitarian effort at the moment.” The UK will look at how it can get equipment to Kurdish forces, who are at the frontline of the fight against IS in northern Iraq and who are trying to defend Iraqi Kurdistan.

US forces have carried out a number of airstrikes targeting ISIL militants near Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, while drones have also fired on Takfiri terrorists.

The US has also reportedly begun supplying weapons to the Kurdish forces, known as Peshmergas, who have been fighting ISIL terrorists in the north.

The rapid advance across Iraq by ISIL militants has thrown the country into chaos.

ISIL overran Iraq's second largest city, Mosul, in June. They had taken the central city of Fallujah and parts of nearby Ramadi in December 2013.

BA/BA

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