Netherlands completely halts training mission in Iraq

Dutch soldier in a training exercise (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Gertrud Zach)Dutch soldier in a training exercise (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Gertrud Zach)

The Netherlands is temporarily suspending its training mission in Northern Iraq, the Ministry of Defense announced on Monday. The commander of the international coalition in the fight against terrorist organization ISIS decided to suspend all training activities in Iraq. The soldiers of the anti-ISIS coalition, including the Dutch soldiers, will remain stationed in the country, NOS reports.

On Sunday, after consultation with the anti-ISIS coalition, the Netherlands already decided to halt training activities in Baghdad. Now the training activities in Erbil, in the north of Iraq, is also stopped temporarily for security reasons. In Erbil, around 50 Dutch soldiers trained Iraqi-Kurdish troops on things like shooting skills, leadership, and the protection of large areas.

Sunday was a tumultuous day when it came to the increasing tensions between the United States and Iraq. The US, the leader of the international anti-ISIS coalition, announced that the training of Iraqi soldiers will temporarily be halted due to repeated attacks by the Shiite militia Kataib Hezbollah over the past months. The US holds the Kataib Hezbollah responsible for rocket attacks on US bases in Iraq.

The Iraqi parliament also voted for a resolution calling for the departure of foreign soldiers from Iraq. The immediate reason for this resolution was the targeted rocket attack by the United States in Baghdad on Friday, in which an Iranian general and an Iraqi militia leader were killed.

The Netherlands is studying the resolution, but pointed out that the Dutch soldiers in Iraq are there based on a mandate given by the Iraqi government.