ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – New Zealand will withdraw all its forces in Iraq over the next year, its government announced on Monday.
Since 2015, New Zealand, along with Australia, deployed troops to Iraq’s Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, to train Iraqi soldiers as part of their commitment to the US-led coalition’s campaign against the Islamic State.
Currently, New Zealand has 95 non-combatant personnel in Iraq.
The country’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, on Monday announced that New Zealand’s contribution to the mission would be ending over the next year, with forces being gradually withdrawn by June 2020.
“Significant progress has been made in this area which will allow the mission to reduce in numbers and conclude within the next year, having successfully achieved what we went in to do,” Ardern said, adding that she had notified Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison of the decision.
“The goal of any training mission is to ensure that it becomes a sustainable programme,” Defense Minister Ron Mark continued.
Last year, the government in Auckland extended its mission in Iraq for another two more years.
There are around 300 Australian troops at Iraq’s Camp Taji. So far, the combined forces have trained around 44,000 Iraqi forces to combat the jihadist organization.
Although Iraq declared its military defeat of the Islamic State in December 2017, the terrorist group continues to carry out insurgency-style attacks in formerly liberated areas like Mosul, which it once declared its de-facto capital, and even places it never controlled, like Baghdad.
Editing by Nadia Riva