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Govt denies `SAS in Iraq' report

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 21/10/2016

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee © RNZ / Alexander Robertson Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee The government has denied a report by a British newspaper that New Zealand SAS soldiers are operating in Iraq alongside special forces from the US, Britain and Australia.

The report said special forces from those countries "are all active in northern Iraq... where they have been calling in air strikes to support both Kurdish and Iraqi advances."

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says that's wrong.

"It is incorrect to say we have SAS calling in air strikes, or involved in any other combat operations in Iraq," he said in a statement.

"As the prime minister has said publicly, the government has ruled out sending SAS, or any troops, into combat roles in Iraq."

Prime Minister John Key said in February: "I think we can pretty much categorically rule out special forces at this time. We don't see that fitting in with what we are doing."

New Zealand has about 140 Defence Force personnel in Iraq training local forces to fight Islamic State.

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