Britain has sent 40 military personnel to assist the Tunisian army with training and border security, the third such group dispatched since last year.
The main body of troops arrived in Tunisia two weeks ago, a spokesperson for the UK’s Ministry of Defense told Tunisia Live by email and will focus on countering “illegal cross-border movement, particularly from neighbouring Libya” as part of a long-planned training installment program.
“Tunisia is a front line state in the fight against Daesh,” the spokesperson emphasized, “so this training will help protect [them] against the threats they face.”
While it is unclear where exactly the personnel will be stationed, the UK’’s Minister of Defense stated they will be assigned to work with around 200 Tunisian service personnel at various Army locations. This latest deployment t is separate from Britain’s extended commitment to provide counter-IED (improvised explosive device) training to Tunisian army personnel.
In a statement issued on Saturday, British Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon said “We are determined to support our Tunisian allies to defend against Daesh terrorists who slaughtered innocent Britons on a beach there last year.”
“Our training will help Tunisian forces strengthen their border security and stop the spread of Daesh along the coast.”
The British arrival comes at a pivotal time: over a year after a gunman attacked and killed 38 on a beach resort in Sousse (30 were British citizens) and amid mounting instability in bordering Libya, especially as the country reels from an attempted coup over the weekend.
As the Islamic State (Daesh) maintains several terror cells throughout Libya–hundreds of Tunisian nationals among them– the Tunisian border has become increasingly vital in the struggle for regional security.
Earlier this year in March, an armed insurgency in Ben Guerdane, thought to have been planned and equipped from Libya left scores dead and wounded. There have also been large shipments of weapons and communication devices confiscated over the border.