Denmark to help Iraq ‘go on offence’ against Isis

Defence Minister Nicolai Wammen committed over 100 military trainers as US President Barack Obama doubles US troops in Iraq in an expansion of the war on Isis.

Denmark to help Iraq 'go on offence' against Isis
Iraqi security forces take up position with their weapons during an intensive security deployment against Isis militants on the outskirts of Diyala province on October 28th. Photo: Stringer/Scanpix
Meeting with US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel at the Pentagon on Friday, Denmark's defence minister Nicolai Wammen committed to help the Americans train Iraqi forces to combat the terrorist group Isis.
Following the meeting, Pentagon officials said that the US's partners in the anti-Isis coalition would send up to 700 troops to help train and advise Iraqi troops as the US unveiled plans to roughly double the number of US soldiers in Iraq. Of the 700 coalition trainers, Denmark will supply 120. 
"I had a very good meeting with my American colleague Chuck Hagel. He thanked us for the Danish response to ISIL [an alternate name for Isis, ed.] and we strongly agreed that it is important that those of us in the coalition continue the fight against the terrible terrorist organisation event though it will be a difficult and lengthy task," Wammen said in a statement. 
US President Barack Obama on Friday announced that he plans to send 1,500 additional troops to Iraq to help Baghdad government forces strike back at Isis jihadists.
The move marked a deepening US commitment in the open-ended war against the Isis group, three months since American aircraft launched air strikes against the Sunni extremists.
The move extends the US training and advising mission to new areas as Iraqi and Kurdish forces prime themselves to recapture ground lost to Isis, including in the volatile Anbar province in the west where the Iraqi army has been on the retreat.
The reinforcements were "part of our strategy for strengthening partners on the ground" but the troops would have a "non-combat role," the White House said in a statement.
The United States already is carrying out air strikes against Isis in Iraq and Syria but officials insisted the decision did not signal "mission creep" towards another all-out ground war.
"They will not be introduced into combat," a senior administration official told reporters.
The US forces will be carrying out the same mission that has been outlined from the start — to help the Iraqi forces on the ground, the official said.
"The mission is not changing at all for our service members," the official said. "We are adding personnel to better carry out the mission."
The 1,500 US troops will include roughly 600 advisors to help Iraqi forces plan operations and nearly 900 trainers who will be deployed across the country.
To fund the growing war effort, Obama also planned to request $5.6 billion from Congress, including $1.6 billion to train and arm the Iraqi forces, officials said. The additional troops would not deploy until Congress approved the funding.
Sceptics of Obama's strategy question if the Iraqi army can be salvaged as long as Sunni tribes feel alienated by the Shiite-led government in Baghdad. But officials said they were hopeful a new Iraqi defence minister would reinvigorate the army, which virtually collapsed earlier this year against the onslaught of the IS group.
"One of the reasons why we think this is a good idea right now is because the Iraq security forces have stiffened their spine and have gone on the offence," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said.  

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Six arrested in Denmark raid for suspected Isis links

Six men suspected of being members of the so-called Islamic State (Isis) group or funding it were arrested in an anti-terror raid in Denmark on Tuesday, police said.

Six arrested in Denmark raid for suspected Isis links
File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The suspects, whose identities were not disclosed, are aged between 27 and 35, police in East Jutland said.

Two of the suspects were arrested in the Danish capital Copenhagen and the four others in Aarhus, Denmark’s second-biggest city.

“Two of the people arrested, a man aged 29 from the region of Aarhus and a 30-year-old man living in Copenhagen, are suspected of penal code violations… for having travelled to Syria in 2014, where they were recruited by the terrorist organisation Islamic State,” police said in a statement.

The 29-year-old is also suspected of having tried to return to Syria in early 2015 to rejoin Isis.

Under his instruction, the four other suspects are accused of having acted as “intermediaries” and having sent money to the organisation.

According to Danish intelligence service PET, at least 160 people have travelled from Denmark to fight in Syria or Iraq. About a third of them have been killed in action, 32 are still there and around half of them have either returned to Denmark or another country.

Jihadism is considered the biggest threat to Denmark’s national security, according to PET.