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Thousands of UK troops overseas send festive messages home

Servicemen and women who have been deployed abroad and are unable to spend Christmas with their families have sent their love home with a series of festive photos and messages.

Pictures from the Ministry of Defence show military personnel donning Santa hats and Christmas jumpers over their uniforms and joining together for a spot of carol-singing between duties.

Thousands of UK personnel are stationed across the globe carrying out patrols and anti-terrorism work.

Around 1,000 people are engaged in the campaign against Islamic State, with the majority based in RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. In the Gulf, HMS St Albans and other Royal Navy warships are serving over the festive period.

In the South Atlantic about 1,200 are stationed in the Falkland Islands while HMS Protector is on Ice Patrol in Antarctica.

In Afghanistan around 450 troops from the British Army and other services are supporting Afghan National Security Forces.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "Our Armed Forces are never off duty.

"This Christmas our brave servicemen and women are serving overseas and here at home to keep us safe, whether securing the skies, patrolling the seas, or leading in the fight against Daesh (Islamic State).

"I pay tribute to their determination, professionalism, and everything they have done this year."

The Support of 903 Expeditionary Air Wing chief of staff, who is working on operations in Cyprus said: "While deployed on Operation SHADER, so far from home at Christmas, it has been a great comfort to many of our personnel to send messages back to their families and loved ones at this special time".

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