Middle east

NATO: Enhancing Iraq mission to support local forces

NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, reported on Friday that a gathering of western military alliance defense ministers had accepted to expand its training mission in Iraq to help Iraqi forces fight against the extremism.

Stoltenberg said after a two-day defense ministers’ gathering in Brussels: While the security situation remains challenging, NATO remains committed to stepping up our support, and he added quoting a concerning increase in the number and sophistication of attacks against international forces in Iraq: Our aim is to help build self-sustaining Iraqi forces able to fight terrorism, prevent the return of ISIS, and stabilize their country.

Actually, NATO keeps a 500-strong training mission in the country for preparing local forces if there will some attacks from Islamic State extremists. Stoltenberg also related that the scope of the mission’s upgrading would be decided at a gathering of alliance defense ministers in February.

Otherwise, Anti-US feeling increased again in Iraq after the killing of powerful Iranian military commander Major General Qassem Soleimani on January in a US airstrike near Baghdad, which conducted to a postponement of NATO training of Iraqi forces.

Stoltenberg also said that the Covid-19 pandemic also obliged the alliance to reduce numbers previously this year however the mission has since returned to its complete capacity. About Afghanistan, Stoltenberg required Taliban to reduce unacceptable levels of violence and break relations with violent groups.

Nevertheless he expressed his concern about the announcement of the US on last week that the American troop will be minimize to around 2,500 early next year, although the potential impact on peace negotiations between the Afghan government and Taliban insurgents. Both parties’ original understanding was that Washington would not completely withdraw prior to a solid agreement between the two sides.

Stoltenberg reported that the negotiations in Doha are fragile, but they are the best chance for peace in a generation. And all Afghans should seize this historic opportunity, alerting that the next months are decisive for Afghanistan. He added: NATO backs the peace process. And we have adjusted our presence to support it, which reduce its troop presence to less than 12,000 from more than one hundred thousand.

Stoltenberg affirmed: We decided to go into Afghanistan together; we will make decisions about future adjustments together; and we will leave together, when the time is right.

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