Northern Ireland

Royal Irish Regiment 'on standby' for Mali mission

Map of Mali
Image caption Last week, the UK government confirmed plans to deploy about 330 military personnel to Mali and West Africa to support French forces

Royal Irish Regiment soldiers are among a number of British Army units who are on standby for potential deployment to Mali, the BBC understands.

British troops are being sent to assist with the training of African military involved in the Mali crisis.

An Army spokesman said "there has been no official announcement of a decision to send more British troops to Mali".

However, it is believed that a statement on possible deployment is expected within days rather than weeks.

Last week, the UK government confirmed plans to deploy about 330 military personnel to Mali and West Africa to support French forces.

The planned deployment included up to 40 military advisers to train soldiers in Mali and 200 British soldiers being sent to neighbouring African countries, also to help train the Malian army.

The Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond said last week that British forces would not serve in a combat role.

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