UK operation in Iraq set to end

The UK's military operation in Iraq will finally end this weekend when the Royal Navy completes its mission to train the country's sailors, Defence Secretary Liam Fox has said.

Most British forces, deployed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, pulled out July 2009 from the southern city of Basra, where most were based.



But the Royal Navy continued to train Iraqi sailors to defend their territorial waters and offshore oil infrastructure as part of Operation Telic.



The mission at Iraq's main naval base in Umm Qasr ends on Sunday, after which there will be only a "handful" of staff at the British embassy in Baghdad.











A total of 179 British personnel lost their lives in the past eight years.



The Ministry of Defence said the UK's role, working alongside sailors from the US Navy, was at the request of the Iraqi government.



It involved training 1,800 Iraqi personnel on 50 different courses ranging from oil platform defence to handling small arms.



British forces will continue to support Nato's officer training programme, while some Iraqi soldiers will attend the army's training college at Sandhurst.



"Royal Navy personnel have used their formidable skills and expertise to bring about a transformation in Iraq's naval force," the Defence Secretary said.



"The Iraqi Navy has a key role to play in protecting Iraq's territorial waters and the oil infrastructure that is so vital to Iraq's economy, and I am proud of the role British forces have played in making it capable of doing that job.



"But this is also an opportunity to reflect on the wider contribution of Britain's Armed Forces to Iraq since 2003.



"Thanks to the sacrifice, commitment, and professionalism of thousands of British servicemen and women Southern Iraq is an area transformed from the dangerous and oppressed place it was under Saddam Hussein and in the aftermath of his removal.



"I pay tribute to all those who served, particularly the 179 British personnel who made the ultimate sacrifice, fighting for security and stability in Iraq."



Brigadier Max Marriner CBE, commander British Forces in Iraq, said "security has fundamentally improved" thanks to Britain's intervention.



He added: "The Iraqi Navy guards the engine room of this transformation - the oil platforms within Iraqi territorial waters - and they achieved that capability through the constant and professional training received by our excellent RN trainers and educators.



"The Iraqi Navy are ready, so now is the time for the UK to dress back and let them complete the mission they were created for."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Ashdown Group: Editor-in-chief - Financial Services - City, London

£60000 - £70000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, glo...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Accountant - London - £48,000 - 12 month FTC

£40000 - £48000 per annum + bonus + benefits: Ashdown Group: International Acc...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power