News story

Actions to counter ISIL

The UK government sets out the actions it is taking to counter ISIL (also referred to as ISIS).

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Aid supplies for northern Iraq being checked on board aircraft.

Supplies being checked before being air-dropped over northern Iraq. Credit: Cpl Neil Bryden RAF/MoD/Crown Copyright.

For the latest information on the UK government’s action to counter ISIL, visit our topical event page

On Friday 26 September the Prime Minister spoke in Parliament on the UK’s role in tackling ISIL in Iraq (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant). The Prime Minister said:

ISIL is a terrorist organisation unlike those we have dealt with before. The brutality is staggering, but it is not just the brutality; it is backed by billions of dollars and has captured an arsenal of the most modern weapons.

This is not a threat on the far side of the world: left unchecked, we will face a terrorist caliphate on the shores of the Mediterranean and bordering a NATO member, with a declared and proven determination to attack our country and our people.

Read the full Hansard transcript.

The Deputy Prime Minister gave the closing speech in Parliament.

Read the Prime Minister’s closing speech at the UN General Assembly and a summary of the government legal position on military action in Iraq against ISIL.

We are working closely with our allies to drive back, dismantle and ultimately destroy ISIL and what it stands for. We will defeat ISIL through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.


Working with the Iraqi government

We will work with the Iraqi government to ensure it represents all its people, and is able to tackle this threat effectively.

We will support the Kurdish regional government, who are holding the front line against ISIL. We will help them protect their own people - and the minorities, including Christians, they have helped already - through our supplies of ammunition and through training.

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United Nations support

We will work at the UN to mobilise the broadest possible support to bear down on ISIL. Read the Prime Minister’s closing speech at the UN General Assembly.

The Prime Minister spoke to Ban Ki-moon on 8 September 2014 to seek support at the United Nations for a broad-based international effort to confront ISIL.

We co-sponsored the resolution passed by the UN Human Rights Council on 1 September 2014, which highlights ISIL’s abhorrent actions and commits to a team of experts going to Iraq to investigate these atrocities.

The Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond travelled to Paris on 15 September to discuss the global threat of ISIL and met with the Iraqi Foreign Minister. The meeting provided an opportunity for almost 20 allies to discuss their strategy for combating this threat.

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Military support

Royal Air Force Tornado GR4 aircraft have been in action over Iraq as part of the international coalition’s operations to support the democratic Iraqi government in the fight against ISIL.

British Tornados and surveillance aircraft have also been helping with intelligence gathering and logistics. This is not about British combat troops on the ground. It is about working with others to extinguish this terrorist threat.

On the 5 November the Defence Secretary announced that the UK is planning to offer advisory personnel to Iraqi headquarters as well as providing additional training to Peshmerga fighters.

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Humanitarian aid

The Department for International Development (DFID) is leading the UK’s humanitarian response and getting life-saving aid to people across Iraq who have fled ISIL terrorists. The UK is delivering a total of £39.5 million of aid.

In the summer of 2014 we responded to the rapidly growing number of Iraqis fleeing their homes by allocating £23 million in emergency humanitarian assistance. These funds are continuing to provide food, shelter, water, sanitation and medical care, to thousands of vulnerable displaced families across Iraq.

In December 2014, as winter approached and temperatures dropped below zero, we continued our support with an extra £16.5 million to provide essential aid to tens of thousands of families. This includes delivering blankets, heating stoves and other essential winter supplies to 14,000 vulnerable displaced families; helping 16,000 families buy warm winter clothing; ensuring 4,500 families are sheltered from winter conditions and providing emergency health support and increased access to safe water for thousands of vulnerable Iraqis.

We will continue to support the enormous humanitarian efforts to help the millions of people who have fled ISIL.

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Counter-terrorism at home

We will maintain and continually reinforce our formidable counter-terrorist effort here at home to prevent attacks and to hunt down those who are planning them.

People seeking to travel to engage in terrorist activity in Syria or Iraq should be in no doubt we will take the strongest possible action to protect our national security, including prosecuting those who break the law. We also have a wide range of powers at our disposal to disrupt travel and manage the risk posed by returnees.

We are redoubling these efforts to:

  • stop people going by taking away the passports of those contemplating travelling to take part in violence or extremism – the Home Office has seized 23 passports since we announced a stronger use of powers in April last year
  • ensure police have the powers they need to arrest those suspected in terrorist activities overseas – 69 people have been arrested in the first half of this year, compared to 25 in the whole of 2013
  • take extremist material off the internet – since February 2010, the Counter Terrorism Internet Referral Unit (CTIRU) has taken down more than 47,000 pieces of unlawful terrorist-related content (over 28,000 of these since December)
  • continue to support a network of organisations who work with people we know are drifting into extremism and violence – they have offered the support of hundreds of people, making a very significant contribution to our national security

A national campaign was launched by police in April to warn of the dangers of travelling to Syria (pdf) - the message is the same for those considering travelling to Iraq or any other conflict zone.

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Government news and statements

10 November

5 November

4 November

30 October

21 October

16 October

13 October

8 October

6 October

4 October

3 October

2 October

1 October

30 September

27 September

26 September

25 September

24 September

23 September

14 September

9 September

3 September

2 September

31 August

29 August

27 August

24 August

21 August

20 August

18 August

16 August

15 August

14 August

13 August

12 August

11 August

10 August

9 August

8 August

7 August

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Published 13 August 2014
Last updated 15 January 2015 + show all updates
  1. Updated Humanitarian section as of 15 January 2015
  2. News and statements updated
  3. News and statements updated
  4. Updated with humanitarian response overview PDF attachment
  5. Updated with revisions to some humanitarian figures as of 17 October 2014
  6. Updated with link to UK/Canada response to sexual violence by ISIL in Iraq.
  7. Added link to statement on murder of Alan Henning by ISIL
  8. Updated Military support section to reflect recent activity.
  9. Added link to update on first air strikes of Iraq mission.
  10. Added update on RAF Tornado jets.
  11. Added link to PM statement in Parliament.
  12. Updated with information about recall of Parliament
  13. First published.