Theresa May will tomorrow use a summit with French President Emmanuel Macron to announce three RAF Chinook helicopters will ferry around French troops battling Islamic extremists in the failed state
British forces are being sent to Mali amid fears ISIS fighters on the run could regroup in North Africa.
Theresa May will tomorrow use a summit with French President Emmanuel Macron to announce three RAF Chinook helicopters will ferry around French troops battling Islamic extremists in the failed state.
About 50 airmen and ground crew will also be deployed, with experts warning it could become a new breeding ground for bloodthirsty jihadists.
They fear ISIS terrorists ousted from Iraq, Syria and Libya could link-up with Al-Qaeda and create a new safe haven from which to launch atrocities – including on European cities.
The PM’s spokesman said: “Those ungoverned spaces are spaces from which you can plot terrorist attacks on Europe.”
Top spooks from MI5, MI6, GCHQ and the French agencies DGSE and DGSI will hold face-to-face talks for the first time, while Mrs May and Mr Macron meet at the Royal Military Academy, Berks, for the 35th Anglo-French summit.
The PM said: “Today’s summit will underline that we remain committed to defending our people and upholding our values as liberal democracies in the face of any threat, whether at home or abroad.
“But our friendship has always gone far beyond defence and security and the scope of today’s discussions represents its broad and unique nature.”
The revelation that RAF helicopters will join the fight against Islamist extremism in North Africa comes after British Tornados, Typhoons and Reaper drones helped drive ISIS out of their Syrian and Iraqi heartlands.
UK aircraft engaged on Operation Shader pounded the terrorists’ lair as ISIS was ousted from its self-styled caliphate.
French forces have been battling extremists in North Africa since 2013, with 3,000 French troops currently involved in Operation Barkhane across the Sahel region.
So far, the only British support has been the use of a C17 Globemaster transport plane.
But now a trio of CH47 Chinooks will be sent from their base in RAF Odiham, Hants to “provide a niche capability providing logistical support but also saving lives by avoiding the need to move troops by ground where they are more vulnerable to attack”.
As well as the growing threat from ISIS, warped fighters from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb have been active in the region for the last decade, exploiting ongoing political turmoil.
A Government spokesman said: “Recent terrorist attacks across Europe underline the scale of the cross-border challenge we face in keeping our citizens safe.
“We will work together to deepen and enhance cooperation on law enforcement, security and criminal justice, to improve the safety of citizens across Europe and to strengthen our internal security capabilities.
“We will continue to work on the French-British Action Plan that Prime Minister May and President Macron signed in June 2017 including continuing to strengthen our cooperation to ensure that the internet cannot be used as a safe space for terrorists and criminals.”
Source: Daily Mirror