Madrid/RIA Novosti: The Congress of Deputies of Spain (the lower house of parliament) on Wednesday has voted in favor of sending troops to Iraq to train the country’s army to fight against the Islamic State (IS) militants, with 314 lawmakers out of 329 supporting the move.
“IS is a rather strong enemy. They have at least 30,000 militants, about 12,000 of which are foreigners. They have a lot of seized artillery ammunition in northern and central parts of the country,” Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenes said, addressing lawmakers.
Spanish soldiers will train the Iraqi military to take part in special, and mine clearance operations. The Spanish troops will not participate in military operations.
Morenes stressed that 300 Spanish soldiers will be deployed to Iraq in the end of 2014, or in the beginning of 2015. They will stay close to Iraqi city of Nasiriyah for up to six months, and the operation will cost Spanish government about $44 million.
“The participation of Spain in the international coalition against the IS shows country’s willingness to maintain peace and stability in the world,” Morenes added.
Twenty two countries already said that they are willing to provide some sort of assistance in battling IS, which has recently taken over swathes of Iraq and Syria, proclaiming an Islamic caliphate on the controlled territories.
Spain was the first country to withdraw their troops from Iraq in 2004, after a terrorist attack in Madrid on March 11, 2004, which claimed 191 lives.