Boris Johnson Vs Isis London Mayor Takes Up Arms As He Joins British Troops On Iraq Front Line
Boris Johnson got to grips with an AK-47 on the front line during a surprise visit to meet British troops fighting against the Islamic State in Iraq.
The London mayor wanted to see the efforts being made to counter ISIS because of the threat terrorism poses to the capital, saying there was a "mutual interest" in the "security and prosperity" of Kurdistan and Iraq as a whole.
British personnel in Kurdistan are training the region”s Peshmerga forces, who have been involved in some of the heaviest fighting against IS, also known as Isil.
A source said: "He wants to see first hand the work being done to keep Isil at bay, the same Isil that wants to send back terrorists who would blow themselves up in London given half a chance."
The main focus of the trip, made at the invitation of Kurdish prime minister Nechirvan Barzani, was to boost trade links with the region.
©2015 Andrew Parsons / i-ImagesMeeting the troops: The London mayor wanted to see how to fight ISIS
Mr Johnson said: "Over the last decade Kurdistan region has seen considerable economic growth and social development, and I”m here to mark London”s role as an active ally in this.
"We have a mutual interest in not only Kurdistan region”s security and prosperity but that of Iraq as a whole.
"The links between Britain and the Kurdistan region are developing at an incredible pace, there is a dynamic and forward looking leadership here and I am looking forward to rolling up our sleeves and discussing greater cooperation on a range of issues."
The mayor was accompanied on the visit by the British consul general to Kurdistan Angus McKee and Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi, who was born to Kurdish parents in Iraq and retains close links with the region.
He visited the airport in the region”s capital Irbil to see the work of the British companies involved in building and running it and was briefed on the airport management”s desire to secure the first ever direct flights to London from the city, which would provide a significant boost to trade between the UK and Kurdistan region.
Earlier this week the Foreign Office was urged by MPs to strengthen diplomatic ties with Iraq”s Kurds.
The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said the Kurdistan region in Iraq was a "beacon of tolerance and moderation" in a part of the world beset by extremism and instability.
But while the regional government in Irbil was anxious to develop links with the UK, the committee warned that the current level of diplomatic resources committed to the region was "not adequate".