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Finland named in plan to send non-combat troops to Iraq

A contingent of Swedish troops is to be deployed in Iraq to train Kurdish fighters for combat against Islamic State militants. According to Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström Finland also has plans in the pipeline to contribute a similar force.

Margot Wallström.
Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström made the disclosure about Finland's participation in a training mission in Iraq at a defence and security conference in Sweden Sunday. Image: Matias Åberg / Lehtikuva

The Swedish government’s plan to support the anti-Islamic State effort in Iraq involves sending troops to provide training support – they will not engage in direct combat in the ongoing battle to pin down the extremist militant group.

Speaking at a security conference in Sälen Sunday, Sweden’s Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said that the government will soon table a motion in the Parliament to send troops out to Iraq.

Wallström said that the government had received a request for assistance from Iraq.

“Those who are fighting against ISIS have sent a request that they need help developing a better armed force. There’s a lot we can teach them. They need guidance and support,” the daily Aftonbladet reported Wallström as saying.

According to the paper the minister said that Sweden was being joined by 60 other countries in providing backup to combat Islamic State.

Germany to lead traiing contingent

Minister Wallström said that last autumn several countries came on board the project to provide training support in Iraq. According to the plan the troops would be led by German officers.

Wallström noted that Finland had also signed up to deploy troops for the non-combat missions. Soldiers participating in the mission would be committed for a period of one year.

Back in November Finnish Defence Minister Carl Haglund said that Finland was considering sending forces to Iraq to participate in training missions. At the time he said that a final decision on the matter would be made in December.

Haglund was also present at the conference in Sälen, Sweden. His aides told Yle that there was nothing new to report in relation to Haglund’s statements in November and that the minister himself was not available for comment.

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