EU mulls Iraq security mission after Mosul battle

Foreign ministers of the 28 nation bloc agreed to consider sending the so-called EU Security Sector Reform Advice and Assist Team to Iraq during a meeting in Luxembourg on Monday after a formal request by the Iraqi government.

According to a statement released after the meeting, the mission would not participate in the actual combat but would train Iraqi forces, which would help to maintain order after purging Mosul, the former stronghold of Daesh in Iraq, of the terrorists.

“I hope this can be put in place rapidly enough, hopefully in the coming months, so we can provide all our advice and assistance to the Iraqi authorities,” EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said at a press conference.

According to French diplomats, an EU mission could build up Iraqi counter-terrorism forces, train police, establish functioning justice and interior ministries and give strategic security advice to the Baghdad government.

An Iraqi federal police humvee is seen parked on a road during the advance towards the Old City of Mosul on June 19, 2017 as the ongoing offensive continues to retake the last district still held by the Daesh terrorist group. (Photo by AFP)

Another EU diplomat described the move as a duty of the block, stressing its importance in avoiding even greater flows of refugees to Europe.

Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by their Arabic name, Hashd al-Sha’abi, have made sweeping gains against the Takfiri elements since launching the Mosul operation on October 17, 2016.

The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.

Iraqi forces are now pushing into Mosul’s Old City as the Mosul battle has entered a final phase.

Taking back the Old City, a densely populated warren of narrow alleyways on the western side of Mosul, is crucial to recapturing the whole of the former Daesh stronghold in Iraq.

 

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