US to train Iraqis in fighting al-Qaeda, diplomats say

Photo: US to train Iraqis in fighting al-Qaeda, diplomats say / Iraq

Up to 10,000 Iraqi commandos would get antiterrorism training from the United States to bolster Baghdad's fight against al-Qaeda under a plan currently being negotiated, diplomats said on Tuesday.

Washington and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki are finalizing a security pact that would arrange for antiterrorism training for between 8,000 and 10,000 Iraqi commandos in Jordan, US diplomats based in Amman said, dpa reported.

Under the proposed agreement, US special forces and military experts based in Jordan will provide training to an initial batch of 2,000 Iraqi special force troops by the end of this month, before expanding the programme to include between 6,000 and 8,000 cadets by the end of February.

The Iraqi army has been reportedly fighting militants from the Islamist State in Iraq and the Levant, an al-Qaeda-linked group, in the western province of Anbar since late December. Al-Maliki's detractor say the fighting is merely being waged against Sunni protesters.

More than 300 people have been killed in the fighting, according to official figures.

"The US is concerned by the threats posed by the current crisis in Anbar and al-Qaeda to Iraq's security and stability," a US defence official in Amman told dpa. These trainings are seen as the quickest and most direct way we can help the government overcome these challenges."

As the training is planned to be conducted in Jordan, Iraqi diplomats say the deal will be issued directly by al-Maliki's office and need not be ratified by Iraqi parliament, which has been hit by factional divisions for more than two years now.

US troops withdrew from Iraq in December 2011 after a 10-year military presence.

the presence of more than 1,000 US special forces and military advisors, along with extensive facilities in Jordan, has made the country a regional training hub where more than 35,0000 Iraqi security personnel were trained between 2004 and 2006.

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