New Zealand Urged To Withdraw Troops In Iraq After ISIS Seized Ramadi

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Mourners react during a funeral of an Iraqi soldier, who was killed during clashes in Ramadi, in Najaf, 160 km (99 miles) south of Baghdad, January 10, 2014.
IN PHOTO: Mourners react during a funeral of an Iraqi soldier, who was killed during clashes in Ramadi, in Najaf, 160 km (99 miles) south of Baghdad, January 10, 2014. REUTERS/Alaa Al-Marjani

The New Zealand government has been urged to withdraw the troops from Iraq as ISIS militants continue to advance. New Zealand Prime Minister John Key has previously vowed that Kiwi troops remain safe in Iraq.

Last weekend, ISIS has taken full control of Ramadi, a key city in Iraq. The outcome of the battle was described as the biggest defeat for the Iraqi government since last summer. New Zealand’s Labour party said the success of ISIS in Ramadi means Kiwi troops are more exposed to threat than ever before.

NZ First defence spokesperson Ron Mark said the Iraqi troops’ response when ISIS militants have showed up was cowardly. U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter told CNN that Iraqi soldiers don’t have the will to fight ISIS in Ramadi. “If Iraq hasn’t got the will to defend itself then it is not worth one Kiwi soldier’s life,” said Mark.

Mr Key remarked he had no advice on the situation of New Zealand troops but gave his assurance to protect them if they were in greater danger. He said he checked with chief of the New Zealand Defence Force and he was advised there was no need to withdraw the troops.  According to the latest reports, ISIS militants have swept through Ramadi, which is 100 kilometres away from Camp Taji where the Kiwi soldiers are based.

Mark said the government may be sending New Zealand troops on a “mission impossible” as the advancing ISIS forces may put the soldiers in the line of fire. He added that Mr Key has evidence that the mission is now “pointless.” Mark believes the Iraqi army cannot be trained and don’t have the will to fight.

U.S. President Barack Obama has described the defeat in Ramadi as a “tactical setback” and reiterated that Washington’s general strategy in Iraq and Syria will not change. New Zealand will only change its stance and withdraw the troops if the NZDF believes there was an absolute threat to Kiwi soldiers, reports Stuff.

Mr Key would not reveal the nature of the threat that would trigger a withdrawal. He is scheduled to travel later in the year to visit the troops in Iraq and the fall of Ramadi will not change those plans. The prime minister said the Iraqi government was determined to retake Ramadi from ISIS forces.

Mr Key believes the only way for Iraqis to take back the city is to ensure they are equipped and trained. In Australia, Prime Minister Tony Abbott has not ruled out sending more troops to Iraq since the fall of Ramadi has only strengthened his resolve to help beat the terror group. 

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