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Defence minister: Czechs to send unit to Iraq next year

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Prague, Oct 4 (CTK) – The Czech military may send a unit of 200-300 soldiers from various fields to Iraq next year, Martin Stropnicky (ANO) told journalists on Wednesday, but the plan is yet to be approved by the government and the Chamber of Deputies to arise from the October election.

At the beginning of next year, a 12-member training team for weapons of mass destruction will fly to Iraq, Stropnicky said.

At present, there are over 30 Czech soldiers from an air force training team helping Iraqis in the piloting and servicing of the Czech-made L-159 aircraft.

The mission is to last till the end of 2018. At the end of September, four Czech military police left for Iraq to train their Iraqi counterparts. As of January, there will be seven of them.

Stropnicky said the group of 200-300 soldiers was being prepared. Its composition has not yet been fully defined.

“It may be comprised of various specialisations. There is a big interest in our health staff, but I do not know whether we will have a capacity for this,” Stropnicky said.

If there is the consent by the government and parliament, the unit might leave for Iraq in the second half of next year.

Stropnicky said next year the Czech military would send almost 300 soldiers to the Baltics within the plan to reinforce the presence of NATO on its eastern wing.

Now the Czech military has about 400 soldiers in foreign missions, most of them in Afghanistan. The number is not likely to change much, Stropnicky said.

“Given our size, we are very active. If it is said that the problem of migration should be solved right in the place, we do a great deal in this sphere,” he added.

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