LONDON (Reuters) - Britain said on Sunday it had deployed a team of army trainers to Iraq to help Kurdish peshmerga fighters maintain and use heavy machineguns against Islamic State (IS) militants.
Britain announced the move as Kurdish fighters battling IS militants in the besieged Syrian town of Kobani called on Turkey to open up corridors to allow volunteer fighters and weapons to enter to reinforce their out-gunned forces.
Britain's Ministry of Defence said the team, which local media reports said was 12-strong, had deployed to Erbil for around a week to help Kurdish fighters operate the guns which Britain gifted to them last month.
"We are continuing to scope assistance to the Iraqi security forces, further training teams addressing soldiering skills, medical and counter-explosive device knowledge will follow," the ministry said in a statement.
A spokeswoman stressed the army trainers were fulfilling a non-combat role. Although Britain's parliament has sanctioned the Royal Air Force taking part in air strikes on IS militants inside Iraq, Prime Minister David Cameron has repeatedly said there was no question for now of deploying ground forces.
(Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Jon Boyle)