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UK forces withdraw from Iraq's Taji base

Iraqi forces are seen during operations against Daesh in Iraq on 2 June 2020 [Ali Makram Ghareeb/Anadolu Agency]
Iraqi forces are seen during an operation against Daesh in Iraq on 2 June 2020 [Ali Makram Ghareeb/Anadolu Agency]

The British army has withdrawn its remaining troops stationed at Camp Taji, north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, bringing an end to a six-year training mission of Iraqi security forces.

A statement by the Ministry of Defence on Tuesday said, "The British army are handing over Camp Taji but are by no means leaving Iraq", adding that they have trained over 120,000 Iraqi and Kurdish soldiers and are now able to hand over the NATO-led training mission to the Iraqis themselves.

"Ranges, identifying improvised explosive devices, and lessons on patrolling skills were all on the training programme for the Iraqi soldiers, but arguably the British soldiers' biggest contribution was the gift of training the trainers.

READ: US-led forces hand over military base to Iraq in effort to reduce US troop numbers

The statement also claims that Daesh, which has wreaked havoc and chaos across the region in recent years, no longer holds territory with their ability to wage full-scale war significantly diminished, due to the work of the US-led coalition. However, it acknowledges Daesh retains the ability to carry out guerrilla warfare within Iraq and to spread its ideology which have consequences further afield.

Regular attacks against foreign troops in Iraq continue to occur by Iraqi resistance groups, many of which are backed by Iran and are committed to their expulsion. One such incident in March led to the death of a British military medic and 2 US servicemen, responsibility for the attack was claimed by the Usbat Al-Thaireen (League of Revolutionaries) faction. "The threat to the Coalition in Iraq is very real," said the MoD.

Over 100 British troops will remain in the country, while the Royal Air Force will continue to conduct air strikes over Iraq and neighbouring Syria. Although there are 5,000 US troops remaining in Iraq, one American commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM) this week said he believes they can "get the job done" in Iraq with fewer troops.

READ: US military plane crashes at Taji base in Iraq

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