MADRID – Spain will send some 300 troops to Iraq on a two-month mission to train the country’s Army, as part of its contribution to the U.S.-led international coalition against jihadists of the Islamic State, or IS, the Defense Ministry said Friday.
Defense Minister Pedro Morenes said the government had agreed on the move, which has yet to be approved by Parliament.
Spain will also offer to increase the capacity of its air bases to respond to the needs of the U.S. Central Command, in a decision which is provided for by the existing agreement between Washington and Madrid and does not require parliamentary approval, he added.
Morenes stressed that the Spanish mission to Iraq “excludes direct combat” and explained that the troops will cooperate with Italy to train and instruct a brigade of the Iraqi Army during seven or eight weeks.
The training will focus on the use of explosive artifacts and on mine deactivation, as well as on special operations, a task already taken up by Spain’s Armed Forces in Mali and the Central African Republic.
The 300 troops will include 69 members of a protection force, 60 instructors integrated in three teams and ten assigned to command and intelligence management.
The rest will back up the security and training tasks, Morenes said.
The minister said these numbers could still suffer changes and added that he will travel next week to Tampa, headquarters of the U.S. Central Command in Florida, to meet with U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, before defining the Spanish contribution.
Morenes added that the role of the international coalition in Iraq “is not only to stop the advance of the Islamic State, but also to provide the country with the structure of a State and guarantee the security of its citizens.”