AVA- Since 2015, the country has deployed some 140 personnel alongside Australian forces to provide military training to Iraqi forces in the fight against the ISIS, at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad.
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday announced that her country’s role in the anti-ISIS mission had been extended from November 2018 to June 2019.
However, she mentioned that the government would review the mission and consider all options next year.
“This is fulfilling our obligations. We already have a commitment to a current training program that extends to the middle of 2019... We serve alongside Australian forces. If we were to withdraw now that would be seen as not completing the commitment,” Ardern said, quoted by Australian Associated Press, denying claims the new troops sent to Iraq were “mission creep.”
“But we’re also signaling that we’re anticipating New Zealand’s contribution changing in the future.”
She also mentioned that she had personally briefed Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, on the decision. Adern noted that starting November, the Iraq contingent would be decreased to 121 soldiers.
New Zealand’s Foreign Minister, Winston Peters, recently stated that Iraqi security forces had made some significant gains over the past few years following the training.
“However, it’s clear that ISIS remains a threat, and further support is required to help the Iraqi Security Forces ensure ISIS cannot reassert itself.”
After a two-year mission from 2015 to 2017, the previous government of New Zealand extended its mission in Iraq to the end of November 2018.
Over the past few years, military trainers from New Zealand and Australia have together trained over 30,000 Iraqi forces to fight the jihadist group.
After Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory against ISIS in Dec. 2017, Australia’s defense department the following year said it would review its role in the training mission.
The New Zealand government also announced on Monday that they would extend their mission in Afghanistan, where 11 military trainers are stationed, to Sep. 2019.
“After nearly twenty years, it is time to assess New Zealand’s longer-term presence there, including alternative military and civilian contributions,” Peters said.
The government has also extended its contributions to peacekeeping missions in the Golan Heights and Lebanon, South Sudan, and Egypt to 2020.
Monday 17 September 2018 14:43