Britain is sending troops back to Iraq to help local forces in the battle against Islamic State militants, the Defence Secretary has confirmed.

Michael Fallon said the UK was “stepping up” its military presence in the country, with its forces to offer further training to Iraqi soldiers and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.

It comes after a “small specialist” team was sent to instruct Peshmerga in the northern city of Irbil last month.

Mr Fallon, who visited British army trainers teaching Peshmerga fighters how to use heavy machine guns given by Britain, insisted that no combat troops will be deployed to Iraq.

He said the latest move would see UK troops teaching Kurds infantry skills such as sharp-shooting and first aid, while more equipment will be provided.

The UK will also send advisory personnel to Iraqi headquarters.

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