Iraq responsible to protect international troops, says German envoy

The German envoy underlined that it's the host country's responsibility to secure the safety of the international troops.
Kurdistan24 interviewed German Ambassador to Iraq Christiane Hohmann on Jan. 8, 2024 (Photo: Kurdistan24).
Kurdistan24 interviewed German Ambassador to Iraq Christiane Hohmann on Jan. 8, 2024 (Photo: Kurdistan24).

ERBIL (Kurdistan24) — Iraq is responsible to protect the international troops based in the country to provide military advice to the Iraqi security forces in the fight against ISIS, German Ambassador to Iraq Christiane Hohmann on Monday told Kurdistan24 amid repeated drone attacks on Coalition forces.

Speaking to Kurdistan24 on the sidelines of an awarding ceremony in Erbil, the German diplomat highlighted the recent attacks on the US-led anti-ISIS Coalition.

“I think it's the host country's responsibility to [not only] secure the safety of the international troops, but also of everybody who lives and works here,” Ambassador Hohmann told Kurdistan24.

“The international Coalition came [at] the behest of the Iraqi Government, but it is also quite clear that we are here to support the government in actually building up a security system that allows [it] to take over on its own,” Hohmann said.

Although ISIS was eventually territorially defeated in Iraq and Syria in 2019, the terror group has survived and evolved into an insurgent group, launching sporadic hit-and-run attacks against Peshmerga, Iraqi and Syrian forces, in addition to civilian targets. 

That has factored into the US and Coalition remaining in the country, although in a more limited capacity compared to when the terror group had seized up to a third of Iraq’s territorial landmass between 2014 and 2017.

“So there’s always a deadline on the presence of the international troops and this is now the talks that are about to happen to see how this can actually transition first,” the envoy continued.

The interview comes as Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani on Friday indicated that he is working to pass legislation in the country’s parliament that would evict the US and Coalition military presence.

Read More: Iraq accuses US-Coalition against ISIS for drone strike on militias

Baghdad’s reluctance to allow the international military presence has been fueled by deadly, retaliatory US airstrikes against Iraqi militias in the country.

The US has continuously warned the militias, mainly the umbrella Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) and its prominent Kata’ib Hezbollah faction, that should the attacks continue, then the US would retaliate. Those attacks have thus far numbered over 120, according to the latest Pentagon reports.

When pressed by Mawloodee on the indifferent response by the Coalition to the drone and rocket strikes by militias in the country, Hohmann rebutted: “I would not agree with your assumption that there haven't been reactions because they have been there have been answers to the attacks on the installations of the international troops.”

Read More: German parliament extends army mission in Iraq

A member of the Coalition, Germany has made numerous contributions to Peshmerga forces through weapon supplies, advising and training, and German soldiers are also present in the Kurdistan Region.

In October, German Parliament extended the country's military mission in Iraq and as a result, up to 500 soldiers will be deployed until Oct. 31, 2024.

Additional reporting by Kurdistan24 Erbil reporter Hero Mawloodee

Editing by Wladimir van Wilgenburg