Weighed down by a giant protective suit, the Kurdish fighter cautiously approached a pick-up truck to defuse the bomb concealed inside by Islamic State militants.

The tension feels real although it is a mock scenario, part of a month-long course for Kurdish forces, who are being trained to detect and defuse explosives on the battlefield by a private company contracted by the British Ministry of Defence.

“In this drill, the police chief of a town has seen something suspicious under a seat in his car, so he’s asked the bomb disposal team to take a look and render the device safe,” explained one of the instructors, all of whom are British veterans of the Iraq war. […]