Merkel pledges support to Iraq in fight against Islamic State

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pledged her ongoing support to Iraq in the battle to root out the Islamic State extremist group during a visit by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to Berlin.

“IS remains a threat for the region and of course beyond,” Merkel said in a statement upon al-Kadhimi’s arrival on Tuesday.

Islamic State controlled large parts of northern Iraq between 2014 and 2017, but the Sunni extremists were driven out with the help of a US-led military coalition that included Germany. Remnants of the group still carry out attacks in Iraq.

“I would like to make clear that Germany stands firmly on the side of Iraq,” Merkel said, stressing the importance of Berlin’s continued support to achieve stability as well as economic growth in Iraq.

Germany’s Bundeswehr military currently has around 270 soldiers deployed to fight Islamic State in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

In the coming week, German lawmakers are expected to approve the extension of this mandate by 15 months, for a maximum of 500 service members. The move also provides for the continued use of military tanker aircraft.

Germany is also contributing airspace radar for the early detection of aircraft and missiles.

Bundeswehr training assistance for Iraqi security forces is to be formally continued, but the coronavirus pandemic has led to restrictions.

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