New Zealand is set to dispatch non-combat forces to Iraq to train Iraqi military units to better fight the Takfiri ISIL terrorists operating in the war-torn country, New Zealand’s Prime Minister John Key says.
Some 140 troops will initiate a “behind the wire” mission in May to train Iraqi security forces, Key told parliament on Tuesday, stressing that the soldiers will not be involved in combat missions.
“We cannot, and should not, fight Iraq’s battles for them, and actually Iraq doesn’t want us to,” he said.
He also added that nearly 106 troops will be based in the Taji military base, about 22 kilometers (12 miles) north of the Iraqi capital city of Baghdad, while others will be deployed to other facilities in the region.
The announcement was criticized by the leader of the main opposition Labor Party, Andrew Little, who said New Zealand should concentrate on providing humanitarian aid for the Iraqis, instead of taking on a military training role.
Little said to think that the forces will just act in a non-combat mission is unrealistic.
“They won’t just be behind the wire, they will be exposed to the much wider conflict,” he stated.
Little said the government had denied legislators the opportunity to vote on the subject.
A number of Western countries along with their Middle Eastern allies, including Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, initially supported the ISIL terrorists in 2012 to topple the government of Syrian president Basher al-Assad.
After ISIL later swept through parts of Iraq in June 2014 and turned against the West’s interests and executed a number of Western hostages, the US and its allies interfered and started targeting the terrorist group’s strongholds.
The US-led anti-ISIL coalition has been carrying out airstrikes on what it says are ISIL targets since early August 2014 in Iraq. Alleged ISIL positions have also been targeted in Syria since late September.
The ISIL extremists are engaged in crimes against humanity in the areas under their control. They have terrorized and killed people of all communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians.
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