UK to send more armed forces to Nigeria to advise on Boko Haram

Defence secretary Michael Fallon says British force will increase from 125 to 300 to provide training and act in advisory role

The UK is to more than double its deployment of British forces to Nigeria to help in the fight against the Islamist jihadi group Boko Haram.

The British forces will be not be involved in combat roles, only training and in an advisory role, said the defence secretary, Michael Fallon, on a visit to Nigeria on Monday.

The UK is to increase a force of 125, sent to Nigeria six months ago, to 300. The reinforcements amount to a recognition of the failure so far to deal with Boko Haram at a regional level.

The US, which regards Boko Haram as closely linked to Islamic State, began deploying 300 troops to Cameroon in October. As well as operating in Nigeria, Boko Haram has been increasingly active in neighbouring countries such as Cameroon.

Washington opted to deploy in Cameroon rather than Nigeria because of concerns in Congress about the Nigerian army, including alleged human rights abuses.

Fallon, whose visit to Nigeria was to include talks with defence officials as well as the Nigerian president, Muhammadu Buhari, said: “Boko Haram is a brutal organisation that has murdered and kidnapped innocent civilians. We stand united with Nigeria in its efforts to defeat them. Stepping up our training efforts will help support the armed forces of Nigeria for crucial counter-insurgency operations.”

The extra British forces will start being deployed early next year. Areas of training will include countering improvised explosive devices and providing medical assistance. An RAF team will help the Nigerian air force in counter-insurgency and protection of airfields. Training is already being provided in areas such as infantry skills.

The UK has small forces of trainers and advisers with the Iraq army in and around Baghdad, with the Kurdish peshmerga in northern Iraq, and in western Ukraine, and is about to send a team to Libya to scope out the feasibility of sending troops there.

Contributor

Ewen MacAskill Defence correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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