Latvian Saeima extends Iraq operation

A majority in Saeima voted to extend the participation of the National Armed Forces (NBS) in the international military anti-terrorism operation against Daesh, according to the Parliamentary Press Service on January 23.

On January 14, 2016 Saiema voted to send NBS soldiers to participate in the Iraq operation through February 1, 2018. Afterward Saeima voted once again to extend the operation through February 1, 2020 on December 7, 2017.

Daesh continues to operate in Iraq and Syria, and their members continue to launch attacks in the Kurdish regions, aiming to expand globally. The decision annotation highlighted the importance of preventing the organization from spreading outside Iraq and Syria. It also said that Latvian soldiers will continue to provide support through training programs and supporting allied forces.

As previously reported, Defense Minister Artis Pabriks (Development/For!) told Latvian Radio on January 14 the Latvian government decided to extend the mandate for the National Armed forces to continue participation in the international operation in Iraq battling Daesh, and on January 15 he spoke on LTV’s morning broadcast “Rīta Panorāma” about the significance of the mission and Latvia’s participation.

The mandate doesn’t contain an obligation to participate in the mission, but provides the opportunity. The final decision whether to continue participation in the mission will be up to Saeima. The 81-state coalition is currently in talks with partners about the future of the mission, but Pabriks reiterated that respecting Iraq’s sovereignty, if Iraq asks the mission to leave, then Latvian soldiers will leave.

Also reported, Latvian military instructors had already ceased the Iraq army training exercises they were conducting in cooperation with coalition partners from the Baltics, Scandinavia and the US, Defense Minister Pabrliks told LTV’s “Panorāma” broadcast on January 6.

In the evening on January 8 Pabriks tweeted his thanks to all Latvian soldiers for their excellent performance in anti-ISIS coalition and announced that the military experts will withdraw to Kuwait for the time being. He also reassured the coalition and US that Latvia remains reliable partner.

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