Mon, 16 Sep 2019

New Zealand will begin scaling back its non-combat mission in Iraq next month and bring home the last of its troops by mid-2020, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday.

Wellington deployed troops on a "behind-the-wire" training mission in 2015 to boost the ability of the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to fight the Islamic State (IS) group.

Ardern said the small contingent of troops, currently 95, who have been working alongside the Australian military at the Taji military base north of Baghdad, had completed their mission.

"When it comes to Iraq, it's time to go," Ardern said, adding that 44 000 ISF personnel had been trained at the base.

"The New Zealand and Australian troops at Taji have worked hard, not only to provide training, but also to ensure that the ISF are well placed to take over this commitment at Taji in the near future."

She said New Zealand troop numbers at Taji would fall to 75 next month, then 45 in January 2020, before the withdrawal in June next year.

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