NATO to expand training mission in Iraq

NATO agreed to expand the Western alliance’s training mission in Iraq. The move comes amid United States’ calls do more in the Middle East.

Last month, the alliance suspended training of Iraqi forces amid fears for regional stability after a US drone strike killed Iran’s top commander Qassem Soleimani.

At a meeting in Brussels, defense ministers agreed the alliance will take over some of the training activities carried out by the US-led coalition against the Islamic State.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the Iraq mission would restart “as soon as possible”, adding that the increased NATO presence in the country “would be with the consent of the Iraqi government”. “We will only stay in Iraq as long as we are welcome”, Stoltenberg said.

He added there had been no decision on how many troops would be re-assigned from the U.S.-led coalition. He also did not give further details on the enhanced NATO involvement in the country.

NATO and the coalition have non-combat missions that aim to develop Iraqi security forces. US President Donald Trump has repeatedly called on the West to do more in the region, and even proposed to the alliance to rename itself NATOME, which means NATO plus the Middle East.

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