Iraq crisis: British troops will not set foot on Iraqi soil, David Cameron insists

 

No British troops will be sent to fight in Iraq, David Cameron promised today – despite his earlier ringing warning that the spread of Sunni extremism in the war torn country poses a direct threat to the UK.

As the Government’s emergency response committee, nicknamed Cobr, met again, they were told that the Kurdish authorities, whose forces are pushing back Isis, do not want British troops to sent in to fight alongside them but do want western military hardware.

After the meeting, a Downing Street statement said: “This is not about getting dragged into a war in Iraq. We will not be putting combat forces on the ground. The Kurdistan Regional Government has not requested our assistance with putting combat forces on the ground, they say they are capable of fighting this battle, what they need is equipment which is why we will look at providing weapons to the Kurdish troops.”

The flat denial that the UK is to go to war in Iraq again, 11 years after Tony Blair sent in troops to help topple Saddam Hussein, followed reports that British servicemen had been sent to the northern Iraqi town of Irbil to help rescue Yazidi people, Christians threatened by the advance of Sunni fanatics. The Downing Street statement confirmed that “UK military assets” are in the region, to help with humanitarian efforts.

Video: Iraqi and Kurdish forces take back Mosul Dam

The Cobr meeting was chaired by the Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, in the absence of David Cameron, who begins a family holiday today. Before he left for Cornwall, the Prime Minister confirmed to journalists that “We are not going to be putting boots on the ground.”

He also ruled out recalling MPs from their summer break to discuss the emergency.

The insistence on keeping out of the fighting contrasts with the Prime Minister’s weekend message, when he warned in an article in the Sunday Telegraph against the danger that Isis might establish “an extremist caliphate” in Iraq and Syria. “It is our concern here and now, because if we do not act to stem the onslaught of this exceptionally dangerous terrorist movement, it will only grow stronger until it can target us on the streets of Britain,” he wrote.

Iraqi Shia fighters prepare to fight Isis militants in Jurf Al Sakhar, 43 miles south of Baghdad AP Iraqi Shia fighters prepare to fight Isis militants in Jurf Al Sakhar, 43 miles south of Baghdad (AP)

Today’s announcement indicated that while the Kurdish peshmarga forces continue their push towards the Mosul Dam, aided by US air strikes, the UK’s contribution will consist of political, diplomatic and humanitarian aid, such as the delivery of tents, cooking equipment and high calorie peanut paste.

The Government is also putting diplomatic pressure on Iraq’s new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, to form a "unity government" that will attract support from Sunni Arabs and Kurds, as well as from the Shiites who make up a majority of Iraq’s population.

In an email sent out to Conservative supporters, Mr Hammond described the UK’s role as “helping the Kurds fighting against these extremists; working with the Iraqi Government; and using our political relationships, our aid and our military expertise to help the Americans and others who are taking direct military action against them.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks