The Foreign Secretary chaired a meeting of COBR this afternoon to discuss the latest situation on Iraq. He was joined by representatives from the agencies, officials from across Whitehall and overseas missions in Baghdad, Erbil, Ankara, New York and Washington.
Officials provided an update on the situation on the ground. Kurdish forces, assisted by US airstrikes, are continuing to counter ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) terrorists, including around Mosul Dam.
The humanitarian situation remains dire and International Development Minister Desmond Swayne called the heads of the main UN agencies over the weekend to emphasise the importance of ensuring that funding is filtering down to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as quickly as possible. A UK humanitarian expert has now been embedded with the Kurdish Regional Government to assist with their response to the crisis.
There is growing concern about the humanitarian situation in towns across Northern Iraq, in particular Amerli, and the UK is working with international partners to establish how best to provide aid to those areas. We are also planning further deliveries to the region of essential items such as tents for the winter, cooking equipment and high calorie peanut paste. UK military assets remain in the region to help with these efforts if needed.
We continue to support Dr Al-Abadi in his efforts to form a unity government in Baghdad; and to ensure that Kurdish forces are able to counter ISIL forces, including through the transportation of military supplies. We remain open to supplying equipment directly and work is underway to identify what we could usefully provide. The UK is working hard with allies to make the most of our diplomatic, political, aid and military expertise, however as the Prime Minister made clear this morning, this is not about getting dragged into a war in Iraq; we will not be putting combat forces on the ground.
Further, the Kurdistan Regional Government has not requested our assistance with putting combat forces on the ground. They say they are capable of fighting this battle: what they need is equipment, which is why we will look at providing weapons to the Kurdish troops.