NATO has agreed to considerably broaden its army advising and stabilization mission in Iraq to roughly 4,000 troops, the alliance introduced Thursday.
“Right now we determined to broaden NATO’s coaching mission in Iraq to assist the Iraqi forces as they combat terrorism and make sure that ISIS doesn’t return,” NATO Secretary-Normal Jens Stoltenberg instructed reporters in Brussels on Thursday, making a reference to the Islamic State.
“Our mission is on the request of the Iraqi authorities,” Stoltenberg stated in a press convention on the finish of the second day of NATO’s annual protection ministers’ summit.
The announcement follows greater than a 12 months of discussions between US officers, NATO representatives and Iraq’s authorities on the scope of the alliance’s noncombat advisory mission within the nation, which has been devastated by struggle with the Islamic State and civil battle following from the US invasion in 2003.
US Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin welcomed NATO’s resolution, based on a Pentagon assertion launched Thursday. Earlier this week, a senior US protection official instructed reporters on the situation of anonymity that Pentagon management was “obsessed with and welcomes NATO’s elevated give attention to Iraq.”
Stoltenberg stated the NATO mission’s growth will embrace army trainers at “extra Iraqi safety establishments and areas past Baghdad,” however provided no timeline for the transition, solely noting that it might be “incremental.”
“The US is collaborating within the power era course of for NATO Mission Iraq and can contribute its justifiable share to this vital expanded mission,” Pentagon spokeswoman Cmdr. Jessica McNulty instructed Al-Monitor through e mail.
The Western alliance’s mission in Iraq started in 2018 and presently consists of some 500 NATO personnel led by Canada’s armed forces. In Could, Denmark is about to take the helm of the mission — which is distinct from, however complementary to, the US-led multinational coalition to defeat the Islamic State.
The US-led coalition, often known as Mixed Joint Job Pressure-Operation Inherent Resolve, tremendously decreased its footprint in Iraq final 12 months, pulling out of a lot of Iraqi bases across the nation and consolidating at Erbil Air Base, Ain al-Asad and Union III, the place coalition personnel of the Army Advisory Group advise Iraq’s senior commanders in Baghdad’s Inexperienced Zone.
The coalition now not trains Iraq’s safety forces on the tactical stage, although some 2,500 US troops stay in Iraq as a part of the duty power’s curtailed mission, with one other 900 in Syria.
Iraq’s parliament handed a decision early final 12 months to expel US forces from the nation after President Donald Trump ordered Iranian Quds Pressure commander Qasem Soleimani killed in a drone strike in Baghdad.
Political uproar over the assassination hastened the Iraqi authorities’s engagement with officers from NATO member states on probably increasing the presence of worldwide troops within the nation to offset any potential US withdrawal, which has to this point been averted by Iraqi and US officers.
Stoltenberg — who obtained Austin’s first official telephone name to a international official after the Pentagon chief took workplace final month — spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi earlier this week.
Austin additionally spoke with Iraqi Protection Minister Juma Saadoun and Inside Minister Othman al-Ghanimi this week, providing comfort and assurances of US assist after some 14 rockets landed in and round Erbil’s airport, killing a neighborhood contractor and injuring eight others, together with one member of the US army.
The Biden administration has to this point avoided blaming Tehran for the assault, although it was claimed by a suspected entrance group for highly effective Iran-backed militias.