Foto Oficial MDN Dr Azeredo Lopes.jpg

Portugal to beef military presence in Iraq

Portugal’s military mission in Iraq – currently involving just 32 soldiers – is to be reinforced, minister for defence Azeredo Lopes revealed yesterday in Brussels.

Talking at a NATO council meeting, Lopes did not elaborate much further, except by stressing that none of Portugal’s troops are destined for the frontline against terrorism.

National troops have been in Iraq since the second half of 2015, taking part in a NATO initiative to train the country’s armed forces.

According to reports, one officer is based in the capital, Baghdad, 30 men are in Besmaya and another single officer is in neighbouring Kuwait. The plan is to double these numbers by the end of the year, writes national tabloid Correio da Manhã – adding that in all Portugal has 515 soldiers from the army, navy and air force stationed in eight points of the globe: Lithuania, Mali, Somalia, Italy, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and the Central African Republic.

Missions are as diverse as “maintenance of peace”, air and sea patrols, and military training and logistics.

All the continents are to be “reinforced gradually” over the next six months, says CM, with the first 149 military to be sent to the Central African Republic in July.

Forces will then be beefed up in “Kosovo, Lithuania, the Mediterranean, Mali, Somalia and Afghanistan”.

The news comes on the day one of our online readers posted a warning about an EU army on exercises on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, UK – and shortly after an article in the Daily Mail suggesting “the UK military is slowly being drawn into a European Army concept”.

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