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Britain extends air strikes against IS in Iraq

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-08-04 21:02

Britain extends air strikes against IS in Iraq

A warplane comes in to land after completed a mission at Britain's Royal Air Force Base in Cyprus in this 2014 file photo. [Photo/IC]

LONDON -- Britain will extend its air strikes against Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq by an extra year, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said Tuesday.

Fallon announced that the frontline RAF Tornado squadron spearheading Britain's air campaign against IS in Iraq will be maintained in service for an additional year until March 2017, according to the British Ministry of Defense (MoD).

In a visit to Baghdad, Fallon said that 12 (Bomber) Squadron will continue to offer the precision firepower, intelligence and surveillance needed for the counter-IS international coalition to provide support to Iraqi ground forces.

The MoD said Britain has eight Tornados flying daily missions over Iraq and is playing "a leading role" in tackling IS, also known as ISIL.

"ISIL terrorists pose a threat the security of Iraq, Syria, the wider region and to the streets of Britain. It is therefore our duty to ensure that the UK continues to play its part to defeat this barbaric regime," Fallon said in a statement.

He noted that Britain has carried out hundreds of strikes to help Iraqi forces push back IS from the Kurdish region and out of key towns.

"We want to ensure we maintain this crucial operational tempo and so we will extend the lifetime of Number 12 Squadron for a further year to March 2017. This will allow us to sustain our effort, helping the Iraqis lead the fight on the ground," he added.

Last year, Britain's House of Commons voted overwhelmingly in favor of a government motion on air strikes in Iraq against IS, but the authorization ruled out deploying troops in ground combat operations.

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