IS supporters marching in Iraq June 2014. Photo: STR/AP.
IS supporters marching in Iraq June 2014. Photo: STR/AP.

Swedish military trainers to stay in Iraq until end of 2016

"The best guess is that we're doing something similar to what we've been doing in Afghanistan."
1:30 min

Sweden will continue training Kurdish soldiers in Iraq until the end of 2016 to support Baghdad's fight against the Islamic State group, Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist and Foreign Minister Margot Wallström told newspaper Dagens Nyheter (DN) during a trip to the north of the country earlier this week.

The initiative began in August, when Sweden sent 35 military trainers to the Kurdish region of the war-torn country. The exact details of their mission has not been revealed due to security reasons.

"The best guess is that we're doing something similar to what we've been doing in Afghanistan, which is called OMLT, Operational Mentoring and Liaison Teams, which is a NATO invention," Magnus Johnsson, a researcher at the Swedish Defence University, tells Radio Sweden.

Sweden is a member of the international coalition against the Islamic State led by the United States.

"I'm very proud of the Swedish unit. They number just 35, but you shouldn't focus on numbers. They are extremely capable and competent, and highly qualified," Hultqvist tells DN.

The Swedish ministers have met top government officials in the capital, Baghdad, and in Erbil, in the northern Kurdish region. The purpose of the trip is to show that Sweden's involvement is both military and civilian and to support the Kurds.

Two percent of Sweden's population has an Iraqi – in many cases, Kurdish – background, Wallström tells DN.

Our journalism is based on credibility and impartiality. Swedish Radio is independent and not affiliated to any political, religious, financial, public or private interests.
Du hittar dina sparade avsnitt i menyn under "Min lista".