British troops in Iraq to train Kurdish forces
British troops deployed to Iraq to help train Kurdish forces in the battle against ISAhmed Jadallah/Reuters

British troops could return to Iraq for the first time in more than two years to help soldiers in Baghdad battle Isis (Islamic State) militants.

Ministers are reportedly preparing to deploy a number of officers to join a US-led training mission in the capital of Iraq, reports The Times on Wednesday (5 November).

The move would mark an expansion of UK involvement in the campaign to stop the insurgent group, after a "small specialist" team was sent to help instruct Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in the northern city of Erbil last month.

The Ministry of Defence is expected to make an announcement on the training commitment later today.

"We are exploring what more can be done on training as part of a future package of support aimed at bolstering the ability [of the Iraqi military] to tackle [Islamic State]," a senior defence source told The Times.

Pressure has been growing to provide more assistance to new Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi as Iraqi forces struggle to reclaim territory in the north and west.

But Prime Minister David Cameron has dismissed the prospect of sending in ground troops to fight the Islamist group, which controls swathes of Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

RAF Tornado fighter bombers have been taking part in US-led air strikes on IS since September, but today's announcement will mark the return of foot soldiers to the country for the first time since the controversial Iraq War ended.

The last time British combat troops entered Iraq was in 2003, as part of the invasion that overthrew Saddam Hussein and later took responsibility for Basra and the south of the country.

The last troops left in April 2009, with a small number staying on to train Iraqi forces into 2011.