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UK Defense Ministry Approves Training of Kurdish Forces by its Soldiers in Erbil: Reports

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The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) approved for a “specialist team” of 12 soldiers to be sent to Iraq to train Kurdish forces on using British arms, supplied in September, to fight the Islamic State (IS) militants, BBC said Sunday.

MOSCOW, October 12 (RIA Novosti) - The UK Ministry of Defense (MoD) approved for a “specialist team” of 12 soldiers to be sent to Iraq to train Kurdish forces on using British arms, supplied in September, to fight the Islamic State (IS) militants, BBC said Sunday.

"The defence secretary has approved the deployment of a small specialist team of non-combat army trainers, which is now in the [Erbil] area providing instruction on operating, employing and maintaining the heavy machine guns that were gifted by the UK last month," the news outlet quoted an MoD spokesperson as saying.

According to The Sunday Times, the UK soldiers will teach the Kurdish forces, also known as the Peshmerga, to fire the powerful British-supplied L1A1 12.7mm heavy machine gun, in one week, near the city of Erbil in northern Iraq.

A BBC correspondent confirmed that the specialist team would not be engaged in combat operations.

"But there is a promise that Britain will be doing more to help train Iraq's security forces in the coming weeks and months. But so far, Britain's contribution to this US led effort has been modest,” he added.

For the past several weeks, IS militants have besieged Kobani, one of the largest towns in the Kurdish region of Syria bordering Turkey.

The Islamic State (IS), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has been fighting the Syrian government since 2012. In June 2014, the group expanded its attacks to northern and western Iraq and declared an Islamic caliphate on the territories that had fallen under its control.

In September, US President Barack Obama announced his decision to form an international anti-IS coalition, which was joined by the UK.

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