Ministers appoint security envoy to Kurdistan in fight against Isis


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The Independent Online

Downing Street today appointed a new security envoy to the Kurdistan region of Iraq in a bid to strengthen efforts to combat the advance of Isis.

Lieutenant General Sir Simon Mayall, a senior defence adviser for the Middle East, will fly to Baghdad next week in a new role as security envoy.

His remit will include assisting Kurdish efforts to combat Isis terrorists and working alongside Iraqi ministers to establish a unity government. A spokesman said: “General Mayall’s extensive experience of the region means he will be able to draw on a broad range of existing relationships across Iraq, the region and with close allies.”

Britain will also dispatch “non-lethal” armoury to assist Kurdish forces, including night-vision equipment and protective clothing.

Meanwhile, Isis militants stormed an air base in northeast Syria on Sunday, capturing most of it from government forces after days of fighting, according to a witness and a monitoring group. Isis  militants have mostly routed Kurdish forces in the north in recent weeks, seizing more towns, oilfields and Iraq’s largest dam. Backed by US air power, Kurdish forces later took back control of  Mosul dam.


In a separate development, it emerged last night that an American held hostage in Syria for nearly two years had been freed. Journalist Theo Curtis, who was handed over to United Nations representatives in the Golan Heights on the border with Israel yesterday, was abducted in Antakya, Turkey, in October 2012.