Latvia to send troops to Iraq, Mali

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Latvia plans to increase its military participation on the international stage by sending a fresh contingent of troops to Mali and by sending military trainers to help Iraqi government forces fight against Daesh terrorists, the Defense Ministry announced Wednesday.

The Ministry said in a statement it was preparing draft resolutions for government so that Latvia can participate in two new international operations.

"The Ministry of Defence is preparing a draft resolution on the National Armed Forces' participation in two new international operations in Iraq and Mali.

"In Operation Inherent Resolve [the coalition against Daesh] a Latvian contingent in Iraq will feed into the Danish contingent with a small group training Iraqi security forces," the statement said.

"In Mali... a Latvian contingent of several staff officers will feed into the Netherlands-led by information processing unit headquarters."

"Participation in these operations does not provide for the involvement of Latvian soldiers in combat operations," the statement said, adding that the deployments would need to be approved by the Latvian parliament or Saeima.

The exact size of the deployments was not specified.

The move comes just a day after Latvia received an official request from France to help it combat Daesh.

Latvia Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics speaking to the BNS newswire in Brussels on Tuesday night said: "The request does not give a specific geographic location. It is a request to help France by sending replacements to the EU military missions, relieving the French soldiers so that they could fight IS. It could be Mali or the CAR. We have experience in both those operations.”

Latvia Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis speaking on LTV public television Wednesday morning said: "There are various different options and missions we could help with among them being the opportunity to relieve French armed forces, for example in Mali, where we could increase our contingent... whatever will help fight terrorism and help France."

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