Allied ministers have agreed to enhance NATO’s training mission in Iraq, secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has said.
The defence ministers have agreed in principle and reaffirmed their support to Iraq. This comes after US President Donald Trump called for more action from allies in the Middle East.
Stoltenberg said in a press conference: “Ministers also agreed to explore what more we can do, beyond this first step. Our aim is to increase the capacity of the Iraqi Armed Forces so that they no longer require our support. Together we are committed to fight terrorism and ensure that ISIS does not come back.
“Over the past years, the Iraqi people and the Iraqi forces have demonstrated great courage and commitment in the fight against terrorism. We commend them for their sacrifices.”
The decision to support also includes agreeing to take over certain activities that are currently being performed by the US-led Global Coalition to defeat ISIS.
The secretary-general also noted that work is yet to start on details regarding the kind of activities to be taken over from Global Coalition forces or number of troops.
He also stated that Nato’s mission aims to train and increase the Iraqi Armed Forces’ capacity.
Currently, non-combat training in Iraq is suspended, with some forces having already moved out. This step was taken by Nato to protect its forces and follows the killing of Iran Quds Force head general Qassem Soleimani.
The Irani general was killed in a US airstrike at Baghdad International Airport on 2 January.
Nato expects the training to resume soon as it still has forces in Iraq.
Stoltenberg added: “Nato is in Iraq on the invitation of the Iraqi Government and we will only stay in Iraq as long as we are welcome.
“Because Nato fully respects Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Everything we do will be in close consultation and coordination with the Iraqi Government.”