MOSUL, FEBRUARY 4 – A visit to the Mosul Dam where she has met with the Italian military of Task Force “Praesidium” marked the last stop of the Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti to Iraq. The tour, which kick started on Tuesday, took Minister Pinotti to Kuwait, then Iraq, where she visited Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan. The Minister was accompanied by Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Claudio Graziano and Chief of Defence Cabinet, Air Force General Alberto Rosso.
In Baghdad the Minister met the Iraqi Prime Minister, Haydar Al Abadi. The meeting focused on strengthening Italy-Iraq relationship in the sectors of security, training and countering terrorism and its ideology. Minister Pinotti also met with U.S. Gen. Stephen Townsend, Commander Counter-Daesh Coalition, joined by over 60 countries. In Erbil the Minister held talks with Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani, and Minister of the Interior and Acting Minister for Peshmerga Affairs, Karim Sinjari. The latter thanked Italy for its contribution to the fight against terrorism.
“Defeating the Caliphate equates to defeating the ideology that these terrorists have disseminated after their successful conquest of that territory”, Minister Pinotti said in addressing Italy’s Task Force Air in Kuwait.
She reiterated that message during her meetings with the Italian military from all services deployed in Iraq, tasked with training and assisting the local security forces engaged in the offensive against the terrorists of Daesh and securing the territory freed from the fundamentalist threat. The Minister expressed her gratitude, also on behalf of the Italian Government, for the crucial work carried out by our Armed Forces in that region.
“Italy has trained approximately 25 per cent of the local security forces”, the Minister said during her speech held in Erbil before the military engaged in operation “Prima Parthica”. They are implementing their task with “professionality and a high sense of commitment“, appreciated by all.
The Italian contingent in Iraq is made up of approximately 1,400 military from all services that have been engaged in the different, consecutive stages of Mission Prima Parthica. It is one of the biggest contingents there, with forces deployed in Erbil, Mosul and Baghdad.
Activities in Erbil are carried out by Task Force Land, an Army unit established in January 2015 that is part of Kurdistan Training Coordination Center (KTCC). Nine countries contribute to KTCC, currently under Italian lead. Its command is assigned, alternatively, every six months, to Italy and Germany.
Approximately 400 Italian military are currently engaged in Erbil: 120 are instructors. Italy is also replacing a U.S. unit in ensuring search and rescue activities in favour of military and civilian personnel. The unit’s operations headquarters is located at the local airport, and provides its services to recover Coalition personnel isolated in potentially hostile areas. Such operational capability is made up of approximately 130 military personnel and 8 helicopters (four transport and evacuation NH90 and four A129 Mangusta for escort activities).
470 military are deployed in Mosul, to protect the dam and personnel of Trevi construction company involved in consolidation work at the dam. The first members of the Task Force arrived in Mosul in April 2016 to carry out surveying and technical-logistical activities, while the deployment of the contingent was completed in October.
Special Forces from all Italian Armed Forces’ services are conducting training activities in favour of the Iraqi military of the Counter-Terrorism Service and Kurdish Peshmerga Special Forces in Baghdad. Moreover, a Carabinieri Task Force has been operating there since June 2015. The 90 members of the Task Force have been training Iraqi federal Police Forces tasked with operations to be conducted in areas conquered back from Daesh control. (@OnuItalia)