2,000 UK troops and a RAF spy plane are bound for Jordan to ‘combat ISIS’ it emerged yesterday.
The UK will send the ‘specialist troops’ and the spy plane to Jordan to ‘aid its efforts to defeat the Islamic State’, a government source has revealed.
This is despite Cameron’s pledge to parliament during the debate on the UK’s involvement in the current conflict with Syria that there would be ‘no boots on the ground’.
During that debate he said: ‘America, Britain and others are not, I think quite rightly, contemplating putting combat troops on the ground. There will be troops on the ground, but they will be Iraqi and Kurdish troops’.
Jordan has boasted that it has carried out 56 air strikes in the last few days, the focus of which is reported to be Raqqa, the IS stronghold in Syria.
Cameron further pledged: ‘I have said that we will come back to the House if, for instance, we make the decision that we should take air action with others in Syria, but I am not contemplating the use of British combat forces because I think it would be the wrong thing to do.’
However an initial group of 60 ‘military planners’ will go to a US-led coalition headquarters in Jordan, which will be used to ‘co-ordinate support’ of Kurdish and Iraqi troops, followed by a further 2,000 who will ‘mainly act in a training capacity’.
This will undoubtedly lead to the UK’s increased involvement in Jordan’s airstrikes on both Iraq and Syria.
The RAF Sentinel R1 spy plane will be used to identify potential targets for coalition airstrikes on IS positions. Royal Artillery drones and electronic jammers from the Royal Signals are expected to be in place by April.
Senior military sources claimed the forthcoming election in May was taking precedence over making ‘defence decisions in the Middle East’, but went on to say that troops would be ready to deploy ‘shortly’.
As many as 2,000 troops could be sent despite the denials of the Ministry of Defence who had not even made the deployment public until yesterday afternoon.
There has been no announcement by the government on this question.
Chris Nineham, Stop the War Coalition vice chair: ‘This is a disaster, this is one step further towards another ground war in Iraq.
‘And mission creep towards war against Syria.
‘It contradicts a commitment made by the prime minister in parliament that the UK would not participate in airstrikes against Syria.
‘All the experiences in the last two wars in Iraq is that UK troops caused absolute havoc and that the experience of the war on terror in general, is that these actions actually spread terror, rather then contain it.
‘Parliament must be recalled over this issue.’