TORONTO (Kurdistan 24) – Canada will lead a new non-combat training mission in Iraq to help ensure the lasting defeat of the Islamic State (IS), NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg revealed on Wednesday.
“We are determined to preserve our gains in the fight against [IS] and prevent them from coming back so today, as requested by the Iraqi government, we launched a new training mission in Iraq, and I welcome that Canada has agreed to lead that mission in Iraq,” the NATO official said during a speech at a summit in Brussels.
“It will be a non-combat mission of several hundred trainers who also establish professional military schools and academies for the Iraqi forces,” he added.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday that Canada would expand its mission in Iraq and take command of the NATO training mission for one year.
The newly-announced NATO mission will launch in fall 2018, the Canadian Department of National Defense told Kurdistan 24 in an emailed statement.
“Canada has committed to providing up to 250 troops to the mission,” it added, noting that the “program focuses on the train-the-trainer approach, aiming for the” Iraqi security forces “to be self-sufficient in the long term.”
Once deployed, the Canadian troops will be stationed in Baghdad and the neighboring cities of Besmaya and Taji where they will deliver training on “explosive threat search” and “manual minefield breaching,” the statement said.
According to a report in the Globe and Mail, only 50 of them will be assigned to train the Iraqi forces as most of the trainers will be from NATO member countries.
During Wednesday’s summit, Stoltenberg said the heads of state and governments “all agree that we do not have fair burden sharing in our lands today. We all agree that we need more cash in national defense budgets, more modern capabilities, and more contributions to missions and operations.”
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the conference, Stoltenberg told Kurdistan 24 correspondent Barzan Hassan that the purpose of NATO’s training mission in Iraq is not only “to train [Iraqi] forces but also to establish military schools to enable the Iraqis to make sure that [IS] is not able to come back.”
He also stated Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi would meet with the Global Coalition to Defeat IS on the sidelines of the NATO summit.
A delegation from the Kurdistan Region accompanied Abadi and other Iraqi officials at the summit in Brussels on Thursday where they are expected to meet with Coalition officials to discuss the lasting defeat of IS in Iraq.