SPAIN will withdraw all its troops from its main Iraqi base this summer, it has been announced.
By the end of July, all Spanish troops will be withdrawn from the Gran Capitan base in Bismayah.
This is Spain’s biggest and most important base, as it houses 350 of the 530 total Spanish troops in the middle Eastern country.
According to El Pais sources, the troops are being withdrawn as they have successfully completed their mission of training the Iraqi security forces.
A new Spanish contingent will be sent to collect material from the site and prepare to return it to the Iraqi authorities.
The mission began in February 2015 and since then Spanish troops have trained 17 brigades of the Iraqi army and 10 brigades of the Iraqi federal police.
In total, Spanish troops trained more than 50,000 people.
The head of the Spanish contingent in Iraq, Colonel César García del Castillo, told King Felipe VI via a videoconference that: “The Iraqi Armed Forces are getting better every day in their level of training and are approaching the definitive defeat of Daesh.”
This comes after the base was hit by two rockets in March, in retaliation for the US assasination of the Iranian General, Qasem Suleimani.
In addition, Spain plans to withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by the beginning of 2021 at the latest.
This would be a few months earlier than the 14-month deadline signed between the US and the Taliban for the withdrawal of US coalition forces from the country at the end of February 2019.
This would not be a unilateral withdrawal given that Spain is following the ‘together we arrive, together we leave’ principle as agreed to by the 39 countries taking part in Operation Resolute Support.
According to El Pais sources this was done in order not ‘to wait until the last moment’.