Allied defence ministers agreed on 12 February to expand their NATO Mission Iraq (NMI) by taking over more of the counter-terrorist training of Iraqi soldiers by the US-led global coalition to defeat ISIS.
The move follows comments from US President Donald Trump for Europe to become more involved in the Middle East.
This would see the in-country redeployment of several hundred troops from the coalition to NMI, according to NATO sources, although the decision awaits the approval of Iraq’s caretaker government.
Announcing the decision, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said, “In the first instance, this will consist of taking on some of the coalition’s current training activities.” Noting that NMI is in the country at the bidding of Baghdad, he added, “We will only stay in Iraq as long as we are welcome.” Nevertheless, NATO soon expects a positive signal from Baghdad, according to allied diplomats.
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