New Zealand to provide further training to support counter-ISIS mission in Iraq
The Government of New Zealand has agreed to extend the country's contribution to the fight against ISIS in Iraq.
New Zealand plans to keep up to 143 trainers at Camp Taji in Iraq until November 2018, within the framework of the joint New Zealand-Australia mission to train Iraqi Security Forces.
The country will amend the mission's mandate to allow small numbers of its troops to travel for short periods to Besmaya, located about 52km south east of Taji.
Commenting on New Zealand's decision to extend its role in the counter-ISIS mission, US Defence Secretary Ash Carter said: "It follows New Zealand's earlier decision to deploy a C-130 Hercules and up to 40 personnel to support coalition operations.
"New Zealand has also pledged $1m in stabilisation funding for Iraq."
In addition to training Iraqi Security Forces in Besmaya, troops from New Zealand would also train stabilisation forces such as the Iraqi Federal Police, in addition to the Iraqi Army.
New Zealand Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said: "These forces are providing an essential role in securing cities once they have been liberated from Daesh so rebuilding can occur.
"To date this has been a successful mission, and the value we're providing the Iraqi Security Forces to rid their country of Daesh is increasing all the time."
Nearly 7,000 Iraqi Security Force personnel have been trained by the Australia-New Zealand mission at Taji.
Around 105 New Zealand Defence Force personnel and close to 300 Australian Defence Force troops are currently deployed in the region.
Carter also backed Poland's decision to expand their campaign against ISIS, saying: "The Polish decision to deploy 60 special operations forces to Iraq, as well as four F-16s and associated personnel to Kuwait for reconnaissance missions over Iraq and Syria, is a further sign of the growing momentum in the campaign to defeat ISIL."
Image: New Zealand deploys military personnel to train Iraqi Security Forces. Photo: courtesy of New Zealand Defence Force.