New Zealand to withdraw troops from Iraq next year, trim Afghanistan contingent

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand will withdraw its troops from Iraq by June next year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday, ending a mission that helped train Iraqi defence forces to fight ISIS terrorists.

New Zealand, which has up to 95 soldiers in Iraq, deployed troops there in 2015, in a joint training mission with Australia to support the multinational U.S.-led operation against ISIS.

“Over the next 12 months, New Zealand will be able to wind down and conclude that commitment,” Ardern told a news conference to announce the decision.

Troop numbers would be cut to a maximum of 75 from July and 45 from next January, before the mission wraps up by June 2020, she added.

The troops provide training on basic weapons skills as well as medical support and logistics to the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) in camp Taji to the north of Baghdad, the capital.

More than 44,000 ISF personnel have been trained at Taji since 2015, the New Zealand government said in a statement.

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