2019.10.24 17:00

After US Syria pullout, Lithuania may send more troops to Iraq instead

BNS 2019.10.24 17:00

Lithuania will not send troops to Syria if US troops stage a complete pullout, Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis said on Thursday.

"Until the situation [following Turkish incursion] has been stabilised, definitely not. Another thing is that the architecture of the US presence is unclear, and if there are no US troops, or if there is [only] a symbolic force, we would not see much added value either," he told the Žinių Radijas radio station.

The US is withdrawing most of its troops from Syria, but is considering leaving a small force behind to guard oil fields and continue the fight against IS.

According to Karoblis, Lithuania mulls sending more troops to Iraq, instead.

"We are part of the same anti-IS coalition in Iraq and are part of the current forces. We are considering a slight increase [in troop numbers deployed in Iraq], in line with the current needs," the minister said.

"Plans to send several military doctors [and] instructors together with the Nordic countries were made much earlier," he added.

Currently, six Lithuanian military instructors are training local forces in Iraq. Another seven liaison officers are performing tasks within the NATO-led international mission in Iraq.