Britain prepares to send 400 more troops back to Afghanistan to counter the ISIS threat
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Britain is planning to send 400 more troops to Afghanistan to help tackle the growing threat posed by extremists – a number that could rise and be used for combat, a former army commander has said.
Gavin Williamson, the defence secretary, is understood to be keen to nearly double the number of soldiers in the country as part of a Nato training mission.
It comes nearly two decades after Britain first deployed ground troops to Afghanistan in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attack, and nearly four years after combat soldiers were withdrawn as Camp Bastion was handed over to Afghan security forces.
General Sir Richard Barrons, who served as commander of Joint Forces Command, said the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014 “hasn’t worked” and supported sending 400 extra troops back to Kabul.
He said the UK “might have to consider” increasing this number even further, as well as sending them into active combat, as opposed to focusing on training the Afghan forces.
The news comes after recent blasts in Kabul, including twin attacks last month in which 36 people were killed, including ten journalists, raised fears Isil is becoming more of a threat in the country.
Last year officials in the US announced plans to send 3,500 extra troops to help bolster the Afghan military, on top of the 11,000 already there.
If Britain was to send at least 400 extra soldiers – figures suggest it could be as many – then it would take the number of personnel past 1,000. Currently, 650 troops are serving with Afghan security forces.
Julian Lewis, Chair of the Defence Select Committee, told the Telegraph: “NATO and the UK have a continuing resolve to ensure Afghanistan does not fall back under the control of the Taliban.
“It should not be surprising to hear we would consider such action in light of an evolving threat.”
Mr Williamson’s office declined to comment, while a Ministry of Defence spokesman said: “The support the UK provides Afghanistan on security, development and governance is crucial to building a stable state and reducing the terrorist threat to the UK.
“We remain committed to NATO’s non-combat Resolute Support mission, in which we play an important role, and keep our contribution under constant review.”
According to The Times, a final plan has yet to be signed off but Theresa May could make an announcement at a Nato summit this summer.