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Finland draws down troops in Iraq over coronavirus concerns

Finland is withdrawing the majority of its troops stationed in Iraq.

Suomalaiset kriisinhallintajoukot antavat taistelulääkintäkoulutusta peshmerga-sotilaille Erbilin lähettyvillä Irakissa loppuvuodesta 2019.
Finnish troops providing combat medical training to Kurdish Perhmerga forces near Erbil in late 2019. Image: Puolustusvoimat

Finland and other countries in the US-led coalition in Iraq, known as Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), are bringing troops home.

The Finnish Defence Forces on Friday said 50 troops will be repatriated from Iraq as soon as possible and placed under quarantine in Finland. Those remaining will stay on to plan Finland’s future role in the mission.

Some 80 Finns have been a part of OIR, a military offensive against the Islamic State led by the US. Since 2015 Finns have assisted in the training of Kurdish Peshmerga forces battling Isis militants.

OIR said in a statement that it was maintaining fewer people on the ground as a protective measure against coronavirus.

The coalition said Iraqi security forces had suspended all training to prevent the potential spread of coronavirus, prompting many western states to call home troops. OIR said it would resume operations 'when the situation permits'.

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