Sir Michael Fallon: Donald Trump will continue fight against Islamic State
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon said he has "no doubt" that the incoming administration of Donald Trump will maintain the USA's "global leadership" in the fight against the Islamic State terror group.
Sir Michael was speaking alongside his US counterpart Ash Carter at the conclusion of a one-day summit in London of the international coalition against IS, which the Government refers to as Daesh.
Mr Carter said it would be "logical" for Mr Trump to stick to the outgoing Obama government's approach to fighting terrorism.
Asked whether he expected the 68-nation coalition to survive the arrival of the president-elect in the White House, Sir Michael said it would be important to focus on the actions of the new administration, rather than Mr Trump's "campaign rhetoric".
"We are dealing here with a global threat from Daesh, a threat that isn't just present in Iraq and Syria, but is present in western Europe, has hit Paris and Brussels, spread to the Far East and hit California," he said.
"This is a global threat and I have no doubt that the next US administration will step up to its traditional role of global leadership."
Mr Carter said: "I can't speak for the next administration. However, I do have confidence in the future of the coalition campaign. It's logical, it makes sense. And therefore I expect that that logic will recommend itself to the future leadership of the United States, even as it has recommended itself to the current leadership."
After talks with ministers from 13 coalition states and Iraq, Sir Michael said: "Daesh is now failing. It controls less than 10% of Iraqi territory. It's lost more than a quarter of the land it once held in Syria. Its supply of recruits has dried up. And more than 25,000 fighters have now been killed. As we speak, our coalition forces are supporting brave Iraqi and Kurdish ground troops in their duty of liberating Mosul.
"I'm proud of the part the UK is playing - more than 70% of our air strikes have been focused around Mosul and we've struck more than 380 targets. At the same time we've trained and continue to train more than 31,000 Iraqi and Peshmerga troops."
Sir Michael announced a six-month extension to the deployment of British troops from 22 Engineer Regiment constructing infrastructure at the al-Asad airbase in Iraq.
And he said that RAF fighter jets were supporting Syrian democratic forces advancing on the IS stronghold of Raqqa.
Sir Michael said the summit had considered the danger of militant fighters being dispersed around the world as they lose their footholds in Iraq and Syria.
"We need no reminding in Western Europe of the threat these terrorists pose," he said. "We've recently seen appalling attacks on the streets of Turkey and Egypt. In the last three years our police and security services have disrupted 12 plots here in the UK, all either linked to or inspired by Daesh.
"That is why the coalition needs to do even more to share its intelligence and insight."
Mr Carter said that a number of the countries present at the London summit had committed additional military contributions to accelerate the campaign against IS.
He said he planned to brief Mr Trump's nominee for defence secretary General James "Mad Dog" Mattis on the counter-IS strategy "at the appropriate time" and would recommend "the need for the United States to remain actively engaged as leaders of this coalition".
Mr Carter said: "I expect he have the same attitude that we do ... which is that we are constantly looking for ways to accelerate the campaign. We seize opportunities whenever we find one, and I expect that that desire to accelerate will persist also, because it makes sense."
The summit came as British military personnel arrived in the Middle East to train "moderate" Syrian opposition forces in infantry, medical and explosive hazard awareness skills as they attempt to open up a second front around Raqqa.
Sir Michael also revealed that he has agreed to "surge" the number of data recovery experts to exploit material obtained as IS forces are defeated or flee from Mosul in Iraq.
Britain's top commander in the region, Major General Rupert Jones, said recently that plans revealing thousands of IS plots to attack Europe were discovered after the terrorists were driven out of Manbij in northern Syria.
Sir Michael hopes the extra experts will be able to exploit data and technical equipment seized from IS to help track UK militants, win the battle on the ground, better understand the militants' structure and leadership, and build a case against fighters who have committed atrocities.