2019.12.19 17:15

Lithuanian troops to go on 11 international missions, Syria deployment on hold

BNS 2019.12.19 17:15

The Lithuanian parliament allowed the military to send troops to 11 international missions abroad over the next two years. Lithuanian soldiers can also be sent to Syria, if need be.

The Seimas passed the resolution on Thursday with 115 votes in favour, none against and no abstentions.

The parliament's mandate, effective between January 1, 2020, and December 31, 2021, allows Lithuanian military and civilian personnel to participate in the NATO-led operation Resolute Support in Afghanistan (up to 60), the NATO's operation in Kosovo (up to five), and NATO military training operation in Iraq (up to 11).

Lithuanian troops can also take part in the EU's military operation Sophia (up to 20), the counter-piracy military operation Atalanta (up to 30), the bloc's military training mission in Mali (up to 11), and in the Central African Republic (up to 11).

Lithuania will also continue contributing to the UN-led stability operation MINUSMA in Mali (up to 50), and a military training mission in Ukraine (up to 60).

The country may also send up to 40 troops and civilians to the US-led operation Inherent Resolve.

Currently, several Lithuanian instructors are serving in the mission in Iraq. Several months ago, the government and the military considered the United States' request to send troops to Syria to join the Inherent Resolve operation against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS).

However, these discussions stopped after Turkey launched its operation against Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria and also Russia's involvement in the ceasefire agreements.

Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis then said that Lithuanian troops would not participate in the international anti-IS operation for the time being.

The Seimas resolution also allows sending up to five military and civilian personnel to the Strait of Hormuz to help protect shipping in the Persian Gulf.

Up to 303 Lithuanian troops will be able to participate in military missions abroad at a time in 2020-2021, up from 255 under the current two-year mandate that expires this month.

The Defence Ministry plans that around 160 Lithuanian troops will take part in international missions over the next two years.