Portugal willing to reinforce military presence in Iraq

As the battle on the ground against the so-called Islamic State (IS) continues, Portugal has guaranteed it is willing to “reinforce its military presence in Iraq” to help defeat the terrorist group “once and for all”.

So said Portuguese Minister of Defence Azeredo Lopes, who visited the country’s military mission – involving around 30 soldiers – in Iraq on Monday (June 26).

Lopes was at the Gran Capitán military base in Bismayah, around 50kms southeast of Baghdad, where the global coalition against Daesh has been training Iraqi forces for years.

National troops have been in Iraq since the second half of 2015.

Reports suggest that the fight against IS in Mosul, one of the terrorist group’s strongholds, should see the Iraqi army regaining control of the city “very soon”.

Thus the global coalition is due to be revising its presence in Iraq, which prompted Lopes to guarantee Portugal is available to help by maintaining its support or even reinforcing it should NATO decide it would be beneficial.

The minister’s visit lasted just three hours but, according to Lusa news agency, gave him a chance to “send a message of appreciation” to the Portuguese soldiers who are working under “demanding and very difficult conditions”.

At the time of his visit, thermometers were registering a sweltering 48ºC at around 4.30pm.

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