NATO to Send 3,500 More Troops to Iraq
( Breitbart )
Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), announced on Thursday that another 3,500 troops will be sent to Iraq, joining 500 NATO forces already in the country. The United States currently has about 2,500 troops in Iraq.
Stoltenberg said the upgraded NATO mission would include more training missions for Iraqi “security institutions,” including areas “beyond Baghdad.”
“Our presence is conditions-based and increases in troop numbers will be incremental,” he said.
Stoltenberg indicated the Iraqi government requested the additional troops and said he has spoken personally with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. NATO has been considering the request for several days.
“ISIS still operates in Iraq and we need to make sure they’re not able to return,” the secretary-general said. Various media reports assumed NATO’s decision was also influenced by Monday’s rocket attack on the Kurdish city of Erbil, which was claimed by a Shiite militia group loyal to Iran. A civilian contractor was killed and nine others were injured during the attack, one of them a U.S. service member.
At his virtual press conference on Thursday, Stoltenberg said NATO ministers are still considering whether to withdraw from Afghanistan in May, as envisioned during negotiations with the Taliban.
“We are faced with many dilemmas, and there are no easy options. At this stage, we have made no final decision on the future of our presence. But as the first of May deadline is approaching, NATO allies will continue to closely consult and coordinate in the coming weeks,” he said.