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More NZ troops head to Iraq for training

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 10/05/2016

A new round of New Zealand troops is about to settle in north of Baghdad to continue training Iraqi soldiers in the conflict against ISIS.

New Zealand has had military personnel in Iraq since May last year, helping Australian soldiers train Iraqi forces.

As part of the two-year mission, a new rotation of about 100 troops have now flown out to camp Taji - a joint operation between the the NZDF and the Australian Defence Force north of Baghdad - to relieve the contingent currently there.

Major General Tim Gall said the operation had trained about 5000 Iraqi soldiers so far, with some involved in the assault to retake the central city of Ramadi from ISIS last year.

"Two other groups we trained are supporting offensive operations in other parts of Iraq," he said.

He said for many of the New Zealanders, it would be their first deployment and the conditions would prove challenging.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister John Key said he was lukewarm to the idea of extending the current mission beyond its 2017 end date, saying he thought two years was "good enough".

A Ministry of Defence review of the operation after nine months said "the training is having a tangible and positive impact on the ability of the Iraqi Army units to take the fight to ISIL/Daesh".

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