The fight against Islamic State looks to be stepping up following the burning to death of a Jordanian pilot and a report on the UK’s involvement by MPs.
The Defence Select Committee have said that Britain should step up its role in fighting Islamic State extremists and that currently participation is “strikingly modest”, the BBC report.
It found that the UK had carried out just six per cent of coalition air strikes and MPs were “surprised and deeply concerned” at the huge difference between the political rhetoric against the “nightmare”of a jihadist state in parts of Iraq and Syria and the physical response.
The UK’s military commitment includes eight Tornado jets, a Reaper drone, transport aircraft and HMS Dauntless, an air defence T45 destroyer. During a visit to Iraq at the end of last year, MPs discovered there were only three UK military personnel outside the Kurdish regions of the country, compared with 400 Australians, 280 Italians and 300 Spanish.
In contrast, there are reports that the Jordanian Air Force has responded to the horrific murder of its captured pilot by launching airstrike in Mosul, Iraq, killing as many as 56 IS terrorists including the commander for the Ninveh area, Abu Obeidah.
And there are further reports that Jordanian troops and armour are massing on the Syrian and Iraqi borders although this is still unverified by official sources.
The Kingdom has already executed two ISIS terrorists following the killing of Moaz al-Kassasbeh and the King, himself a trained pilot, is said to be taking part in bombing runs.
After a visit to Washington, it was reported that the King quoted the Clint Eastwood film when detailing his plans for retribution to members of the House Armed Services Committee.
“He said there is going to be retribution like ISIS hasn’t seen,” the Washington Examiner reported Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr., saying that the King quoted part of the film which includes the lines, ’Any son of a bitch takes a shot at me, I’m not only going to kill him, I’m going to kill his wife and all his friends and burn his damn house down.’
‘He’s angry,’ he added. ‘They’re starting more sorties tomorrow than they’ve ever had. They’re starting tomorrow. And he said, “The only problem we’re going to have is running out of fuel and bullets”.
British MPs have taken a softer line, stressing that they were not in favour of deploying combat forces to the region. Instead, MRs suggest the UK could step up its contribution to the air campaign and use more special forces.
An instead of just going along with what the Americans are doing, MPs said the UK should develop its own analysis and strategy.
The report said the UK “can and should be playing a greater role” in fighting IS adding that “officials, ministers, and officers have failed to set out a clear military strategy”.
And they want the government to respond to Iraqi requests for more training, including countering IEDs which the British Army’s Explosives Ordinance Division are highly skilled in dealing with.
MPs concluded that IS was the “most significant threat” to have emerged from the Middle East “in decades”.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, committee chairman Rory Steward said IS had contributed to “the displacement of millions, destabilising and threatening neighbouring states, and providing safe haven to an estimated 20,000 foreign fighters, many dedicated to an international terrorist campaign”.
“Yet, the role that the UK is playing in combating it, is strikingly modest.”
“I think it would be a real pity if Britain lurched from engagement to isolation. We must find a way as a global power of playing a responsible role,” he added.
A government spokesman said: “We have carried out the second highest number of air strikes among coalition partners, gifted weapons and trained Iraqi security forces, including the Peshmerga forces, in how to use them, are gifting a further 1,000 counter-IED detectors and are delivering various strategic and skills training programme.”
But questions have been asked about the UK’s ability to rescue personnel taking part in training, strikes or surveillance, particularly since a key US ally has now warned it will take no further part in the bombing campaign until extra resources are put in place should aircraft come down over hostile territory.
A senior US official has said that the UAE foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, questioned the new US ambassador on why there were no proper Combat Search and Rescue resources in Northern Iraq.
Defence experts confirmed to Breitbart London that it would be theoretically possible to base the aircraft in Turkey.
The UAE wants the US to deploy its V22 Osprey tilt-rotor search and rescue aircraft nearer to the battleground than where they are currently based in Kuwait and say their pilots will not rejoin the fight until they are in place. It is understood that no UAE pilot has taken part in a sortie since Flt Lt al-Kaseasbeh was shot down on Christmas Eve.
The Ministry of Defence has so far not responded to questions about the UK’s CSAR ability.