On Thursday, the Estonian government approved a bill by the Riigikogu according to which the country will deploy up to ten members of the Estonian Defence Forces to participate in the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) in Iraq next year, as well as adopted a bill which will extend the defense forces’ participation in UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon that is to remain Estonia’s biggest international mission.
The decision regarding OIR would extend the participation of up to ten members of the country’s defense forces in the international military operation until Dec. 31, 2017, spokespeople for the Estonian government said.
According to the letter of explanation accompanying the bill, the Estonian troops would take part in the operation against the Islamic State group, which was launched by the US in June 2014, but would not be participating in military operations in Syria.
In August of this year, six members of the Estonian Defence Forces headed to Iraq’s Anbar Province as part of a Danish unit in order to help train local police, border guard and troops as part of OIR. Beginning in September, one senior Estonian officer has been serving in Baghdad as part of the US-led multinational military-strategic team advising Iraqi ministries and security forces as well.
The letter of explanation also noted that Estonia is ready to send additional staff officers, for instance, to serve on the same operation provided that the total number of Estonian forces serving on the mission remains within the prescribed limit of ten personnel.
According to the second bill regarding UNIFIL, the participation of up to 50 personnel in the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon will be extended from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2017. According to government spokespeople, he size of th Estonian contingent of the UNIFIL mission may be temporarily increased to 100 active service personnel for a period of no more than one month.
Estonian troops have been participating in the UNIFIL mission since spring 2015. The Estonian contingent currently serving in Lebanon, ESTPLA-21, is made up primarily of members of the Scouts Battalion's B Company and serves there as part of a Finnish-Irish battalion. The current platoon is the fourth rotation to serve on the UN mission.
Editor: Editor: Aili Vahtla