North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on the 18th that NATO will increase its military deployment in Iraq from about 500 to about 4,000.
Expand the scope of activities
Stoltenberg told media reporters after the online meeting of NATO member defense ministers on the same day that NATO will gradually increase its military deployment in Iraq, expand military training targets and expand the area of operation.
Training activities will include more Iraqi security institutions in the future, and the region will be beyond Baghdad.”
NATO forces in Iraq are not involved in combat operations and have helped train and advise Iraqi security forces since 2018.
The area of activity was previously limited to Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, and neighboring Jordan.
NATO announced an additional deployment to Iraq in February 2020.
Due to the impact of the coronavirus epidemic, the additional deployment plan has been suspended.
Stoltenberg said on the 18th that NATO’s operation in Iraq was “at the request of the Iraqi government”.
According to AFP, the plan to send more troops was supported by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Qadimi.
On the other hand, the U.S.-led international coalition against extremist groups, the Islamic State, is stationed in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdish Autonomous Region in northern Iraq.
After Iraq announced its defeat of the Islamic State in late 2017, the number of troops stationed in the League of Nations was reduced to less than 3,500, of whom about 2,500 were U.S. troops.
AFP reported that NATO is expected to take over some of the current training activities carried out by the International Coalition against the Islamic State after increasing its military deployment in Iraq.
Escue from Afghanistan is undetermined
Regarding NATO’s presence in Afghanistan, Stoltenberg said on the 18th that the defense ministers had not made a final decision on the future of NATO troops in Afghanistan.
He said the day before that NATO troops would not consider withdrawing from Afghanistan early.
The previous U.S. government signed an agreement with the Afghan Taliban at the end of February 2020, agreeing to completely withdraw from Afghanistan by May 1 this year, including the U.S.-led NATO troops.
AFP reported that NATO allies are waiting for the final decision of the new U.S. President Joseph Biden.
“We are facing many dilemmas, and there are no simple options.
At this stage, we have not made a final decision on the future of the garrison,” Stoltenberg said.
“The May 1 deadline is approaching, and NATO allies will continue to maintain close consultations in the coming weeks.”
Stoltenberg insisted that the Taliban must continue to fulfill their commitments as agreed, reduce violence, cut off ties with “international terrorist organizations” and promote progress in peace talks with the Afghan government.