German defence minister wants missions in Iraq to continue

Berlin (dpa) – Germany is prepared to continue its mission in Iraq, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Thursday as she urged the Iraqi government to decide on the future of international forces stationed in the country.

On Sunday, Iraqi lawmakers passed a resolution calling for an end to the presence of foreign troops linked to a US-led alliance fighting Islamic State. The vote came after a US airstrike in Baghdad days earlier that killed Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force.

According to Kramp-Karrenbauer, the Kurdish government in northern Iraq would like the German armed forces to continue their deployment and their training of Peshmerga forces there. It was with this in mind that she spoke with Iraqi Defence Minister Najah al-Shammari earlier on Thursday, she said.

“We want to continue this mission, but it’s also clear that we can only do this if we also have consent from the Iraqi government,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said following a special meeting of the Bundestag’s defence committee.

“And the Iraqi government is currently deliberating on how to proceed with the vote of the Iraqi parliament.”

On Monday and Tuesday, the Bundeswehr moved 35 servicemen and servicewomen to Kuwait and Jordan from Iraqi bases in Baghdad and Taji. On Thursday, Kramp-Karrenbauer said another 26 of more than 100 men and women stationed in Erbil would be withdrawn due to the expiration of their deployment period.

“All other forces will remain in Erbil for the time being,” she said. “Operations in Erbil will continue.”

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