UPDATED: Norway’s conservative government coalition is positive towards sending military aid to Iraq, to help in the fight against the extremist Islamic group IS, reports newspaper VG. Foreign Minister Børge Brende has earlier stated, though, that any military contribution to the US’ requests for assistance would not include troops on the ground.
Brende and Defense Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide were briefing an expanded session of the Parliament’s foreign relations and defense committee Thursday afternoon. They already have backing from one of their support parties, the Christian Democrats, to send military support to Iraq.
“There are a lot of indications that we’ll be asked to contribute with demanding requests of a military character, and I go into the meeting with the greatest seriousness,” Knut Arild Hareide, a Member of Parliament (MP) and head of the Christian Democrats, told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) before the special committee meeting began.
Norway is already humanitarian aid to refugees who have fled the brutal Islamic extremists. A military transport aircraft began sending water filtration systems and other humanitarian aid to Northern Iraq earlier this month.
Now Norway is poised to send military assistance as well, with Brende and Søreide saying that they’ll send five officers to help prepare further military operations against IS. The officers will first be sent to the US and thereafter to local military bases i Iraq.
Brende said earlier this week on a nationally broadcast NRK program that “we have no choice” but to contribute to the US-led operation to fight the Islamic extremists. He said Norway was also “evaluating how we can contribute with, for example, expansion of military capacity.”
In Afghanistan, Norway contributed towards fighting the Taliban by helping to train Afghan military forces. NRK reported that Norway is evaluating doing the same in Iraq, so that Iraqi soldiers themselves can be better equipped to hold off the Islamic extremists.
Newspaper VG reported Thursday that Norway’s government was willing to send soldiers to Iraq to help fight the extremists. Søreide wouldn’t comment on soldiers, but said Iraq needed “broad international support” in its fight against IS.