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Tributes paid to 'superb soldier' killed in Iraq incident

Tributes have been paid to a "superb soldier" and "first class leader" who died in Iraq.

Lance Corporal Scott Hetherington, 22, of 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, died following a "tragic incident" at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, on Monday.

The circumstances of the death of the father-of-one, from Middleton, Greater Manchester, are being investigated, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said.

The MoD previously confirmed that the death was not as a result of enemy activity.

L/Cpl Hetherington, nicknamed "Snowball", was a member of Blenheim Company and a vehicle commander in the Force Protection Platoon.

Lieutenant Colonel Rob Singleton, Commanding Officer, 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, said: "Lance Corporal Scott Hetherington was a superb soldier and a first class leader. Utterly professional and talented, he was full of character, fun and his enthusiasm was infectious.

"The Battalion has lost a huge talent and a real character. He will be missed dearly and we will never forget him. Our hearts go out to his parents, his siblings, his girlfriend and his young daughter. They are in all of our thoughts."

Lance Corporal Lynch, Force Protection Platoon, Blenheim Company, 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, added: "Snowball was a top bloke. You could always count on him to have a laugh, and he always had an answer for everything. He was such a big character. He will be greatly missed by the whole Battalion."

The British Army is in Iraq as part of Britain's effort to combat Islamic State (IS) terrorists.

In December, 150 soldiers from the deceased soldier's battalion were being deployed to Iraq for six months.

They formed part of the 500-strong British Army force which was being sent to the country to train Iraqi and Kurdish security forces.

As part of the UK's role in the 68-member Global Coalition committed to defeating IS, the 2 LANCS soldiers were being sent to Iraq to provide protection to other British troops training the local security forces in infantry skills, weapons maintenance, medical, engineering and counter IED measures.

Major General Rupert Jones, Deputy Coalition Commander, said: "The entire international coalition mourns the loss of Lance Corporal Hetherington.

"He died helping support our Iraqi partners to defeat Daesh (another term for IS) and so protect the United Kingdom. His family and loved ones are in all our hearts and thoughts."

Minister of state for the armed forces Mike Penning said: "Our thoughts are with the soldier's family, friends and colleagues, and I would ask that their privacy is respected at this difficult time. An investigation has started into the circumstances surrounding this tragic incident."

The Combined Joint Task Force stated on its website that a "coalition serving member" was killed in a "non-combat related incident", and said an investigation was under way.

Family and friends of L/Cpl Hetherington, a former student at Middleton Technology School, paid tribute to him on social media.

On Facebook, his aunt, Nicola Hetherington, said the family were "heartbroken".

James Postlethwaite posted: "Shocked and saddened that Scott Hetherington has been taken from us all far too soon! Not a day would pass without him making you laugh or smile. Really was the light in a dark room.

"So many funny memories, one of the most genuine and biggest personalities within the battalion, amazing friend, soldier and leader amongst many other things. Had such a massive effect on so many people's life's and careers! You will never be forgotten! My heart goes out to your friends and family. RIP."

He signed off with the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment motto: Nec Aspera Terrent (Difficulties be Damned).

It is understood that L/Cpl Hetherington became a father last October.

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