ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Germany Ministry of Defence told Kurdistan 24 on Friday that it had approved an extension to its mission to train forces in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region by one year.
Officials and soldiers from Germany’s unified military forces and administration, known as the Bundeswehr, will now remain and continue their training mission until October 2020.
According to a ministry spokesperson, the decision, made on Wednesday, is still “subject to the consecutive approval of the German Parliament.” “This includes both, the training of the forces in central Iraq as well as the training in Erbil,” the spokesperson specified.
A Ministry of Defense statement explained that the goal of the extended mission is to prevent the “resurgence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.”
Kurdish officials and others have warned that the Islamic State is reorganizing its forces and continues to pose a security threat in the region. Although the extremist group’s so-called caliphate was finally destroyed by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and the US-led coalition in Syria in March, and in Iraq in late 2017, insurgent attacks by sleeper cells continue in both countries.
In an audio message released on Monday, a man purported to be Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi bragged that the group’s fighters continue to carry out daily operations in both Iraq and Syria.
As part of Germany’s mission to help limit the group’s ability to carry out such attacks, the Bundeswehr has been focused on building the capacity of Iraqi forces. As part of the extension, the total number of German soldiers deployed in Iraq is set to be reduced from 800 to 700 soldiers.
A German delegation headed by the German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer visited the Kurdistan region in August.
During her trip, Kramp-Karrenbauer said her country would maintain its active and close observation of the security situation, revealing that German forces would “remain in the Kurdistan Region.”
“Germany will continue to assist Peshmerga forces,” she told the media after her visit to a Peshmerga base where German military experts train the Kurdish troops.
“We have completed the first phase of training the Peshmerga forces, and we will continue with the second phase, which is the training of trainers,” Kramp-Karrenbauer added.
Since the beginning of the war with the Islamic State in June 2014, Germany has sent several shipments of various armaments to Peshmerga in support of their fight against the group, in addition to the training.
The German Ministry of Defense added that it had also extended its deployment of Tornado fighter jets for aerial reconnaissance based in Jordan for the US-led coalition until the end of March 2020. After this time, it said, these capabilities should be “replaced by other nations.”
Editing by John J. Catherine