New Zealand withdraws all military personnel from Camp Taji in Iraq

All personnel are returning to New Zealand.
All personnel are returning to New Zealand. Photo credit: File

New Zealand has withdrawn its forces from the Taji Military Base in Iraq.

All 45 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel are either on their way back to New Zealand, or already in the country, said Defence Minister Ron Mark on Monday.

"Twenty-eight personnel arrived back in New Zealand last week and are in isolation at the Royal New Zealand Air Force base in Auckland. The remainder will be returning later this week," he said in a statement.

The NZDF has been stationed in Iraq since 2015 helping to train Iraqi soldiers to defeat extremist group ISIS. 

"New Zealand is very pleased to have fulfilled its commitment to the Iraqi Government and the Defeat-ISIS Coalition to train Iraqi Security Forces at Taji," said Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters in a statement on Monday.

More than 47000 Iraqi soldiers have been trained at Taji throughout the five-year deployment.

Despite withdrawing from Iraq, New Zealand will still maintain a military contribution to the Defeat-ISIS Coalition.

"This decision recognises the enduring threat that a resurgent ISIS poses to global security, including towards New Zealand and New Zealanders abroad," said Peters.

The Coalition was formed in 2014 and is comprised of 82 countries committed to defeating ISIS.

"Beyond the military campaign in Iraq and Syria, the Coalition is committed to preventing the flow of foreign terrorist fighters across borders; supporting stabilisation and the restoration of essential public services to areas liberated from ISIS ; and countering the group’s propaganda," reads a post on the coalition website.