From Kosovo to Iraq, UK's recent military interventions

2nd December 2015, Comments 0 comments

Syria looks set to become the latest in several overseas military operations for Britain in recent years, as lawmakers prepare Wednesday to vote to join air strikes against the Islamic State group.

Following the Falklands War in 1982 under then prime minister Margaret Thatcher and the 1990-91 Gulf War, years passed before a series of military engagements ordered by Labour premier Tony Blair under the banner of "humanitarian intervention" and the "war on terror".

Here are the main recent operations since Blair:

- Kosovo -

Britain joined the 1999 NATO-led air strikes in the Kosovo war.

Elected in a landslide in 1997, Blair was the Western leader who pushed hardest for ground troops to be sent in to push back Serbian forces before its leader Slobodan Milosevic accepted a peace plan.

- Sierra Leone -

One year after the Kosovo conflict in 2000, British troops were deployed to Sierra Leone, formerly part of the British empire, to intervene in the country's civil war.

The relative success of the missions in both Kosovo and Sierra Leone is seen by analysts as having emboldened Blair to take further military action in future.

- Afghanistan -

After the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US, Britain joined the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, where the Taliban had harboured Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

British troops, most of them deployed in the violence-hit south, spent 13 years in Afghanistan.

The country was the second largest contributor to the international mission after the US, with 9,500 troops there at the conflict's peak in 2011.

A total of 454 Britons died while serving in Afghanistan.

- Iraq -

In 2003, Britain again joined the US under President George W. Bush to invade Iraq and topple dictator Saddam Hussein.

Blair has since been dogged by claims that his government "sexed up" evidence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq to make the case for war.

A total of 179 British personnel died in the war and the last UK troops left Iraq in 2011.

A much-delayed British inquiry into the war which started work in 2009 is due to be published mid-2016.

- Libya -

Britain under current Prime Minister David Cameron was part of a Western military alliance which intervened in Libya in 2011, resulting in the toppling and death of dictator Moamer Kadhafi.

However, Libya remains deeply unstable and Cameron has faced repeated claims that too little was done to support the country following Kadhafi's downfall.

In June this year, 30 Britons were among 38 tourists killed in an attack at a holiday resort in Tunisia claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group which Tunisia says was planned in Libya.

- Iraq and Syria -

Britain is currently involved in air strikes on IS targets in Iraq but not Syria.

Eight Royal Air Force Tornado fighter jets have been deployed along with an unconfirmed number of armed and surveillance drones.

Britain has also sent around 800 personnel to help train local forces.

Several more fighter jets are planned to be used if parliament votes in favour of extending the air strikes to Syria.

© 2015 AFP

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