NATO To Deploy 3,500 Extra Troops Amid Reports ISIS Has Rebuilt Its Forces during the pandemic
NATO plans to deploy an extra 3,500 troops to bolster an upcoming NATO training mission in Iraq, following intelligence reports that as many as ten thousand ISIS fighters have gathered in Northern Iraq, after rebuilding their forces under the cover of the pandemic.
Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary-General said on Thursday, “The size of our mission will increase from 500 personnel to around 4,000. Training activities will now include more Iraqi security institutions and areas beyond Baghdad”, stressing that the mission “is carried out with full respect for Iraq’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
This move comes after recent Ministry of Defence reports of two RAF Typhoon jets having had to strike last week at ISIS targets near the city of Bayji in Iraq, as part of Operation Shader’, the UK’s contribution supporting Iraqi forces in the US-led international counter-ISIS operation.
Vladimir Voronkov, the chief of the UN Office of Counter-Terrorism (UNOCT) said that some 10,000 ISIS fighters in Syria and Iraq are posing “a major, long-term and global threat. They are organized in small cells hiding in desert and rural areas and moving across the border between the two countries, waging attacks”.
It was revealed last year that sleeper cells had regrouped under new leader Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Quraishi, and speaking to The Times, a commander of the Kurdish Peshmerga, 50-year-old Sirwan Barzani, whose forces are stationed near the northern city of Erbil, said ISIS was still “a big threat for all of the world and the fighters will keep pushing as they want to become more powerful”.
He continued, “When the liberation started for the whole area, they shaved their beards and posed as civilians, but they were waiting for the opportunity and slowly they went back to rejoin them”.
He added, “They reorganised themselves quicker because of the pandemic and because there were fewer coalition operations. That was something that was good for them but bad for us, of course”
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