Defense Minister: Latvia contributes to the fight against IS

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Latvia is one of the 65 countries that have formed a coalition against the Islamic State terrorists. If now Latvia is mostly providing humanitarian relief, the country can soon start sending soldiers to Iraq, Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis told Latvian Television Tuesday morning. 

According to the minister, though, Latvia won't be sending the National Armed Forces to participate in real combat.

"We won't be going to Syria, where there's fighting going on. But what we can do is what we're doing in Afghanistan and Mali – we can send our instructors for training the Iraqi army. Our experience can be useful for countries that are only rebuilding their own armed forces. The combat skills so acquired will allow them to strike back against the Islamic State," said Bergmanis.

According to him, in Latvia the level of combat training is very good, and the country has experience in taking part in such missions.

The decision about sending Latvian soldiers to Iraq should be taken by the parliament. It is projected that Latvia could send about 10 to 15 people if it participates in a mission.

At the moment, the National Armed Forces are participating in the EU's counter-terrorist operation Atalanta, the training of the Mali army, in the NATO operation in Afghanistan and in the EU effort against human trafficking and smuggling in the Mediterranean. 

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