03 Feb 17. Iraq and Syria: OP SHADER. The UK has played a significant role in supporting the Iraqi Operation which secured a notable victory over Daesh in Eastern Mosul. Since the Operation began, over 450 targets in and around Mosul have been struck by the RAF. UK Service personnel have also contributed to the training of over 38,500 Iraqi Forces. (Armed Forces’ Minister, 3 Feb 17.)
The Foreign Office continues to encourage the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government to resolve the future status of the disputed territories. (Foreign Office Minister, 7 Feb 17.)
The MoD is not aware of any occasion since June 2014 when military supplies gifted by the UK Government for use by Kurdistan Regional Government Peshmerga Forces in the fight against Daesh have not been allowed by the Government of Iraq. (Armed Forces’ Minister, 8 Feb 17.)
The Government has no plans to re-establish a diplomatic presence in Damascus in the current circumstances. (Foreign Office Minister, 8 Feb 17.)
“Operations to free Mosul from Daesh rule are being led by the Iraqi Security Forces….Iraqi Forces are now preparing for Operations to free the remainder of the City which are likely to start shortly.” (Armed Forces’ Minister, 10 Feb 17.)
Comment: While visiting Cyprus (Item 4) the Defence Secretary took the opportunity to thank the Cypriots for their Country’s support to OP SHADER; with British aircraft operating from RAF Akrotiri. (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/07, 13 Feb 17)
09 Feb 17. Italy: OP SOPHIA. The Defence Secretary met (9 Feb 17) his Italian counterpart in Rome, when he confirmed that the UK is considering the provision of additional training to Libya’s Coastguard in conjunction with OP SOPHIA. The purpose of the training, led by the Italians, is to increase Libya’s ability to secure its own borders. HMS ECHO continues to spearhead the UK’s role in OP SOPHIA and RN ships have rescued over 15,000 people since Operations in the Mediterranean began. HMS ECHO’s contribution has included the rescue of nearly 2,000 people. RN ships have also destroyed more than 140 smuggler vessels. In addition to HMS ECHO, other RN/RFA ships involved in OP SOPHIA have been: HMS BULWARK, HMS DIAMOND, HMS ENTERPRISE, RFA MOUNTS BAY and HMS RICHMOND.
Comment: While the two Defence Secretaries met in Rome, the two Prime Ministers were meeting (9 Feb 17) in London. As the UK’s Prime Minister pointed out: “….we do vital business in Agriculture, Manufacturing,
Pharmaceuticals and Defence.” (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/07, 13 Feb 17)
10 Feb 17. Cyprus: Co-operation Programme. The Defence Secretary met (10 Feb 17) his Cypriot opposite number in Nicosia and signed a Defence Co-operation Programme; agreeing to “closer working”. The agreement covers: Special Forces; Counter-terrorism; Crisis Response; Intelligence; Air Defence; Hybrid Warfare and Cyber. In addition, there is to be a
particular focus on improved Maritime Search and Rescue co-operation. The Defence Secretary alsoannounced a continuing commitment to train senior Cypriot Officers at the Royal College of Defence Studies and on the Advanced Command and Staff Course.
Comment: UN facilitated negotiations continue towards a solution to the disputed settlement of the island. The Defence Secretary confirmed that “the UK will do whatever is necessary to secure a settlement.” (Source: DNA DEFENCE NEWS ANALYSIS, Issue 17/07, 13 Feb 17)
06 Feb 17. Croatia: Agreement Signed. The Defence Secretary welcomed (6 Feb 17) Croatia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister to London.
The visitors signed an agreement “aimed at developing existing security and Defence relations”. The Defence agreement focuses on developing the UK-Croatia relationship, including: existing joint Operations;
deployments together on international Operations and future opportunities for Defence procurement and equipment support. In signing the agreement, the Defence Secretary