Since my quarterly counter-Daesh statement on 13 July, Official Report, column 445, after a period of reset and recovery, the Iraqi security forces have delivered a swift victory over Daesh in Tal Afar. On 20 August, with coalition support, they began the operation to retake the town. On 31 August, Prime Minister Abadi announced the liberation of Tal Afar and all of Ninewah province. I congratulate Prime Minister Abadi, and all of the Iraqi security forces for their success. There is, however, still more work to be done and the UK will continue to support the ISF in their efforts to finally clear Daesh from Iraq.
As part of the next phase of the coalition plan to defeat Daesh, the coalition asked the UK to provide additional support in constructing supplementary accommodation and office space at Al Asad air base in Iraq to enable operations in the Euphrates river valley. A team of Royal Engineers infrastructure specialists has therefore deployed for a period of around five months, to undertake this vital work. The soldiers had been held at readiness in the UK for such a task. These troops will remain inside the secure air base. This deployment will temporarily raise the number of UK troops based in Iraq as part of Operation Shader to just over 600.