SHAFAQNA (Shia International News Association) – Britain says it plans to re-deploy its drones from Afghanistan to Iraq to use the aircraft in targeting positions held by the ISIL Takfiri militants.
“We are in the process of re-deploying some of our Reaper remotely-piloted aircraft from Afghanistan to the Middle East,” UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told British MPs on Thursday.
He added that the US-made drones, which are armed with two Paveway laser-guided bombs and four Hellfire missiles, will provide surveillance, reconnaissance and intelligence assistance to the Iraqi and US-led coalition forces operating against ISIL in northern Iraq.
UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has said that the “surveillance capability of Reaper will see it provide vital situational awareness, making it an invaluable asset to the Iraqi government and the coalition allies.”
“If strike operations are required, then Reaper has the ability to complement the sorties RAF Tornados have already completed,” Fallon said, referring to the sorties conducted by eight Royal Air Force Tornado warplanes against ISIL-held areas in Iraq.
During a visit to Baghdad on October 13, the UK foreign secretary said the US-led airstrikes against ISIL will not be enough to defeat the terrorists.
Hammond confirmed that there will be no British “boots on the ground,” adding that in order to defeat the militants, the Iraqi government and its security forces as well as the Iraqi people “will have to take the lead on the ground.”
The British secretary also stated that airstrikes have prevented the advance of the militants, a claim that Iraqi political parties have questioned.
The US-led campaign against ISIL in Iraq began on August 8, and since late September, Washington and its Arab allies have been conducting airstrikes against ISIL positions inside Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate.