Defense continues to reduce role in Iraq, considers new contribution from Mali mission

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At the request of the international coalition against the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq, the Netherlands will further scale down the deployment of military personnel in the country. The goal of the Dutch mission in Iraq is shifting from training military personnel to advising the Iraqi security sector, reports defence Wednesday.

Resumption of mission participation in Mali investigated

According to the international coalition, the Iraqi security forces are now sufficiently able to cope with the threat from IS. Dutch deployment in operations is therefore no longer necessary.

At the beginning of the year, some fifty Dutch soldiers were active in Iraq. Twenty of them were already recalled in April due to the corona virus. The soldiers were there to train fighters of Iraqi Kurdish militias, the peshmergas. These militias have played an important role in the fight against IS in recent years.

According to the Ministry of Defense, the Dutch soldiers still present will focus on advising Iraqi troops, for example in the field of planning, preparing and carrying out operations.

The international coalition has also asked the Netherlands to assist with the security of Erbil International Airport in the Kurdish part of Iraq. The cabinet is still investigating whether this is desirable and possible.

Defense also reports that it is investigating a possible resumption of Dutch participation in the UN mission Minusma in Mali.

Participation would consist of providing a military transport aircraft to provide air transport for the mission. With this, the Netherlands wants to get involved in the rotation schedule with Denmark, Portugal, Belgium and Sweden, who have been supplying this since 2016.

The next opportunity to participate in the rotation schedule will be from November 2021. The cabinet will make a decision about this before then.

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