Norway is preparing to send troops to Iraq after officially declaring its support in the US-led fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a week after the Danish parliament voted to send soldiers and fighter jets to the country.
A total of 120 soldiers were preparing for the mission Friday, a day after Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg, announced the move in a press meeting in Oslo, the Norwegian capital.
Solberg stressed the troops were being deployed this year to "advise" Iraqi security forces and would not take part in direct military action against ISIL.
Solberg and the Norwegian Secretary of Defense, Ine Marie Eriksen, said the troops would be cooperating with other allied forces at a training centre in the capital Baghdad, and Erbil, the largest city and the capital of the regional Kurdish rule in Iraq's north, about 90 kilometers (55 miles) east of Mosul.
She also said 75 Norwegian soldiers would also be deployed in Afghanistan early next year in and around the capital, Kabul.
- 'New, hopeless Iraq war'
The declaration in Norway follows last week's decision by the majority of the Danish parliament to send up to 140 troops and seven F16 fighter jets to Iraq.
Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt confirmed Thursday that the Danish jets were being deployed on combat missions and would be authorized to bomb targets in Iraq.
But the decisions have faced opposition in both the Danish and Norwegian parliaments.
In Denmark, Nikolaj Villumsen, the defense spokesman for the left-wing Enhedslisten party, called the initiative "a new and hopeless Iraq war."
In Norway, the leader of the center-left SV-party, Audun Lysbakken, expressed "grave fears" that the presence of Western military forces in the region would escalate the conflict, creating even more support for ISIL.
"I can't see how a new US-led invasion of Iraq would bring stability to the region, much less defeat the ISIL," Lysbakken said.
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