Denmark to withdraw special forces from Iraq

Danish foreign minister Anders Samuelsen said that his government will withdraw its special forces from Iraq. (AFP)
Updated 17 May 2018
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Denmark to withdraw special forces from Iraq

  • Denmark will continue its contribution in the fight against Daesh with a radar facility and ground staff in Iraq.
  • The country is withdrawing its special forces because Daesh no longer controls large areas in Iraq.

STOCKHOLM: NATO-member Denmark said Thursday its special forces taking part in the US-led coalition against Daesh in Iraq would be withdrawn following the defeat of the extremist group.
"We have now reached a point where we can begin withdrawing our special forces because (IS) no longer has control over large areas in Iraq," Danish foreign minister Anders Samuelsen said in a statement.

Samuelsen added: "It is important to stress that the fight against IS isn't over yet," adding Denmark would continue its contribution in the fight against Daesh with a radar facility and ground staff.
Up to 60 special forces were sent to Iraq in 2016 to train and advise Iraqi soldiers after a vote by the Danish parliament.
The forces also took part in operations on the Iraqi-Syrian border, providing intelligence and ad hoc air support.
"Their Iraqi partners are now ready to stand on their own two feet," Danish defence minister Claus Hjort Frederiksen said in the statement.
"(IS) have been forced away from virtually all the areas which the terrorist organisation occupied in Iraq," he added.
The Scandinavian nation currently has around 180 troops stationed at the Al-Asad air base near Baghdad, where they have been training Iraqi soldiers and Kurdish security forces.


Iran funding Taliban to affect US military presence in Afghanistan, say police and lawmakers

Updated 27 May 2018
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Iran funding Taliban to affect US military presence in Afghanistan, say police and lawmakers

  • Police officials and lawmakers accuse Iran of funding and arming Taliban in the country's western parts to increase its strategic influence
  • Farah police, however, dismiss the notion that Iranian interference was in retaliation to the US' withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal this month

KABUL: Afghan government and police officials have accused Iran of providing financial aid and advice to Taliban militants as part of its opposition to the US military presence in Afghanistan.
Mohinbullah Mohin, spokesman for the police of western Farah province, told Arab News on Sunday that Iran’s backing helped the Taliban to conduct a massive onslaught and capture most parts of Farah, which lies near the border with Iran, last week before being flushed out by a US-led Afghan counterattack.
“Iran has been seriously helping the Taliban by providing financial assistance for several years now. It was also involved in the latest incidents (Farah city falling to Taliban),” he told Arab News by phone from Farah.
“Its assistance is for the western region (expanded over several provinces) and the goal is to build its influence and strike a blow to the US (military presence in Afghanistan),” he said.
Earlier the police chief of Farah province, Fazl Ahmad Sherzad, had also claimed that Iran was involved in the May 15 Taliban attack on Farah city and that “they have been directly funding and providing arms to the Taliban as Iran sees Farah as part of its strategic interest.”
This claim was backed by the head of the provincial council of Farah, Farid Bakhtawar, on Wednesday, who claimed that the militant group crossed over from Iran, where it was trained and armed to conduct its attacks.
Some Taliban commanders live in Iran, where they also receive mentoring from Iranian advisers, said Mohib.
Officials at the defense ministry and presidential palace refused to comment about Iran’s role in the latest round of the Afghan war.
However, last week, the new US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became apparently the first top American official to publicly accuse Iran.
“Iran’s support to the Taliban in the form of weapons and funding leads to further violence and hinders peace and stability for the Afghan people,” Pompeo was cited by media as saying in Washington.
Mohib rejected the speculations that Iran’s aid to the Taliban was in retaliation to President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal this month.
Aqa Noor Kentooz, former police chief for Farah province, told Arab News that authorities had found anti-personnel mines with the Taliban with Iran’s marking when he served in Farah a few years ago.
Mohib added that Iran’s discourse with Afghanistan in the west was “over water:” Iran felt that the construction of a water dam by Afghanistan would deprive it of its share of water.
It was not immediately possible to seek a reaction from Iran’s embassy in Kabul.
However, the Taliban spokesman denied that the group had received any assistance from Iran, calling the accusation part of a move by Kabul and Washington to conceal their military setbacks.