New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced Monday that her country will pull troops out from war-torn Iraq by 2020, local media reported.
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A total of 95 New Zealand soldiers, who are deployed in Iraq’s Camp Taji, were scheduled to return home in November 2018 but their term was extended, according to Stuff news website.
New Zealand soldiers are imparting training to their Iraqi counterparts since 2015 as part of the U.S.-led Operation Inherent Resolve.
According to the news website, the prime minister said 42,000 Iraqi troops had been trained under the scheme.
"The New Zealand and Australian troops at Taji have worked hard, not only to provide training, but also to ensure that the ISF [Iraqi security forces] are well placed to take over this commitment at Taji in the near future. The goal of any training mission is to ensure that it becomes a sustainable program," Ardern said at a weekly news conference.
The process of drawdown of New Zealand soldiers will start in the coming year with just 45 left in January 2020. “And all of the troops [will be] withdrawn [from Iraq] by June 2020,” the website quoted Ardern as saying.
About situation in Afghanistan, she said her country’s troops in Afghanistan will stay for at least another 18 months.
"By March 2020, the number of NZDF [New Zealand Defense Forces] personnel deployed in Afghanistan will have decreased from 13 to 11. This will comprise six personnel deployed to the Officer Academy, two personnel within RSM Headquarters and potentially up to three focusing on Women, Peace and Security and reconciliation and reintegration," the New Zealand premier said.
"The Government will again consider New Zealand's contributions to Afghanistan by the end of 2020," Ardern added.