Baghdad contemplates giving NATO larger role to replace US-led coalition – report
Iraq is considering a larger role for NATO at the expense of the US-led coalition, AFP reported, citing officials in Baghdad and Western states. The January 3 strike which killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and a top Iraqi commander was condemned by Baghdad as a breach of its sovereignty and of the coalition’s mandate, which focuses on fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).
Iraq’s parliament has voted in favor of ousting all foreign troops, including the 5,200 US soldiers. The Canadian-led NATO mission was set up in 2018 and has around 500 forces training Iraqi troops.
“We are talking to the coalition countries – France, the UK, Canada – about a range of scenarios,” said Abdelkarim Khalaf, spokesman for PM Adel Abdul Mahdi. “The essential thing is that no combat troops are present and our airspace is no longer used.”
Two unnamed Western officials were cited as saying that the premier had asked them to “draft some options” on a path forward for the coalition.