NZ troops return from Iraq deployment

9:27 am on 2 June 2017

New Zealand Defence Force soldiers returning from a six month deployment in Iraq believe they have made an impact in the fight against Islamic State.

About 100 New Zealand Defence Force troops who returned home from Iraq tonight are confident their training mission will have an enduring impact.

New Zealand soldiers return from their joint mission with Australia to Iraq. Photo: Supplied / NZDF

More than 100 troops who were based in Camp Taji, just outside of Baghdad, arrived back in New Zealand last night.

They were they fourth group of New Zealand soldiers to be sent to Iraq for a joint mission with Australia, training members of the Iraqi Security Force, as part of international efforts in the fight against Islamic State.

The Senior National Officer of the fourth rotation of troops, who cannot be named, said the group had trained over 7000 Iraqi Security Forces over the six months deployment.

"The Iraqi forces are better prepared, more likely to succeed and have a greater chance of surviving because of the training we have helped deliver," he said.

Major General Peter Kelly, the Chief of Army, welcomes home the fourth rotation of 106 New Zealand Defence Force soldiers from Iraq tonight.

Major General Peter Kelly Photo: Supplied / NZDF

The Chief of Army, Major General Peter Kelly, said many of the Iraqi forces trained by Task Group Taji are being sent to the frontlines in the northern city of Mosul, ISIS' last urban stronghold in Iraq.

Mr Kelly said it was a "nasty" fight, but it was hoped that Mosul would be liberated by Iraqi forces in the next few weeks.

"Explosive devices, snipers... it's one of the nastiest forms of urban conflict you can imagine, and the soldiers that we have been training have been trained to win that fight," he said.

In 2016 the government announced it was extending the deployment of troops by 18 months, until November 2018.

Peter Kelly said the next rotation of troops arrived in Iraq about a week ago.

There will be seven deployments all up, before the mission ends next year.

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