Norwegian soldiers remain on an American drone base in Iraq, despite the fact that the country’s authorities have asked foreign forces to leave the country.
Norway has around 70 soldiers in Iraq, where since 2015 they have participated in the US-led coalition against IS.
Since 2017, the Norwegian force has mainly been stationed at the Ain al-Asad airbase in Anbar Province in Western Iraq.
It was from this base the United States sent the MQ-9 Reaper drone that killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3, resulting in an Iranian missile attack on the base five days later.
After the Soleimani attack, the Iraqi National Assembly declared the US-led coalition is undesirable in the country, a claim that has since been reiterated by Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi.
The US has on the contrary rejected withdrawal, and Defense Minister Frank Bakke-Jensen (H) has made it clear that the Norwegian soldiers will also remain for the time being.
Waiting for clarification
“A political process is underway in Iraq, and we are awaiting a clarification from the Iraqi government after the vote in parliament,” senior adviser Marita Hundershagen in the Ministry of Defense told NTB.
– “We are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government. Our forces will remain in Iraq as long as this invitation is up and the Norwegian government decides to continue the contributing,” she says.
© NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today