British troops
British Army are sending more troops to Iraq to train local forces in support rolesOmar Sobhani/Reuters

Britain has offered to send an extra 30 troops to Iraq to help with the fight against the Islamic State (Isis). They will "provide training in areas such as logistics and bridge building, as well as specialist medical staff" the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said in a statement.

It will bring the total number of UK personnel involved in training inside Iraq to more than 300. The MoD added the troops will build on the instruction already provided to Iraqi forces "in infantry skills, counter-improvised explosives and weapons maintenance".

They are expected to be deployed to training camps at Besmayah, a new city south of Iraq's capital Baghdad, and Taji an area to its north. The UK contribution fits into a wider mission involving a number of nations.

Britons not fighting

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said the deployment comes against the background of "solid progress" against Isis (Daesh) in recent months.

"Now is the time to step up our training of Iraqi Forces, as they prepare for operations in key cities such as Fallujah and Mosul," he said. "Along with the trebling of UK airstrikes, this underlines the crucial role our armed forces are playing in the fight against Daesh."

The British government has repeatedly insisted that training missions do not constitute 'boots-on-the-ground' – meaning soliders in combat roles – although special forces from the country are thought to be operating in the region.

Daesh commander lives

News of the offer came as it emerged that that a top IS commander may have survived a US airstrike in north-east Syria.

Omar Shishani, a Georgian whose real name is Tarkhan Batirashvili, may have "limped away" from the bombing, a US spokesman said. Twelve of 13 people targeted in the attack are known to have died, they added.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights added that a foreign surgeon who specialised in treating veins was brought in to treat him.

Last year, the US offered a $5m (£3.5m) reward for Shishani who, it said, had held numerous top military positions within the group, including "minister of war".

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