NATO troops staying in Iraq at Baghdad’s request, says chief

NATO forces

Baghdad ( – NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg has stressed that troops of his military alliance is staying in Iraq at Baghdad’s request.

“We are here because Iraq wants us to be here, we are not here without the consent and without an invitation from Iraq,” Stoltenberg told AFP on the sidelines of visit to Iraq Monday.

“We should not stay longer than necessary, we will train the trainers as long as necessary to make sure IS (Islamic State) does not reemerge,” he said.

Stoltenberg’s comments come days after the Iraqi parliament called on the government to draw up a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.

“The Iraqi parliament expresses its gratitude to all countries which have supported Iraq in its fight against Daesh (IS) and calls for the government to draw up a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops,” it said in a statement.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared in December the end of the war to expel IS jihadists from the country, three years after they seized a third of Iraq, sweeping aside security forces.

Stoltenberg said NATO received a “written request” from Abadi to keep its troops in the country, stressing that troops from 19 member countries have stepped up training Iraqi forces in several fields.

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