Exclusive: The troops are coming home from Iraq

Exclusive: The troops are coming home from Iraq
Photo credit: New Zealand Defence Force

Our troops are coming home.

On Monday the Government announced a phased draw-down of troops in Iraq which will conclude the mission at Camp Taji in June.

The draw-down will be staged over the next 12 months with the first tranche of personnel returning in July and more than half the troops home by January next year.

New Zealand has 95 troops training Iraqi soldiers at Camp Taji. The Government plans to end the deployment by June 2020.

In September last year, the Prime Minister extended deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan despite promising in opposition to pull the troops out saying the Islamic State remained a threat and New Zealand's support was required.

Since the fall of the last IS stronghold in Baghouz, Syria in March there are fears IS may be trying to return to an insurgency in Iraq.  

New Zealand has a mandate for up to 121 troops in Iraq and according to the Defence Force there are 13 personnel in Afghanistan.

The troops were initially deployed in May 2015, it was meant to go until May 2017 but was extended by former Prime Minister John Key to November 2018.

Under the Labour-led Government, it crept out to June 2019, but the number of troops was cut back by 22.

The Prime Minister made the announcement at her post-Cabinet press conference at 4pm.


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