Jordan hosts anti-ISIL combat training for Iraqi officers

By Mohammed Ghazal in Amman

Iraqi officers take part in a training session at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre in Amman. [Mohammed Ghazal/Al-Mashareq]

Iraqi officers take part in a training session at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre in Amman. [Mohammed Ghazal/Al-Mashareq]

Hundreds of Iraqi officers are receiving specialised combat training in Jordan that they will put into immediate practice in their country's battle against the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL).

The first group of Iraqi officers began training in April , with 350 officers from the Iraqi Interior Ministry and armed forces slated to graduate from the NATO-backed programme by the end of November.

The Iraqi officers are being trained by instructors from Jordan, Spain, the Czech Republic and Scotland at the King Abdullah II Special Operations Training Centre (KASOTC) in Amman.

The programme includes advanced training on the removal of all types of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), combat medic operations and civil-military emergency planning and preparedness to support operations.

Jordan is keen to support the training of Iraqi forces in order to equip them with advanced skills to fight and defeat extremist groups such as ISIL, KASOTC director general Col. Ahmed Kaiber said.

"We have trained numerous Iraqi forces at the centre and are ready to continue training more in Jordan," he said, noting that the centre offers a training programme that is in line with international standards.

Speaking in Brussels last month, deputy secretary general of NATO Alexander Vershbow said NATO would start training Iraqi army personnel inside Iraq in early 2017, the Jordan Times reported.

"We are in the same boat in fighting terrorism," Kaiber told Al-Mashareq. "By strengthening the Iraqi army and Iraqi forces, we protect everyone. We will inevitably win our war against terrorist groups."

Advanced leadership training

The training offered to Iraqi forces focuses on leadership, planning and skills on the battlefield, KASOTC director of training development Nasser Arabiyat told Al-Mashareq.

Many of the Iraqi personnel who came for training lacked well-developed skills at the beginning of the course, he said, but now have acquired advanced skills after intensive training.

"Many of the participants in the training were told to prepare to take part in the military operation to liberate Mosul from the grip of the ISIL terrorist group," Arabiyat said.

Explosives disarming and dismantling officer Lt. Samir Ali, of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, told Al-Mashareq he hopes to return to his homeland at the earliest opportunity to take part in the operation to liberate Mosul.

"I have worked at the Ministry of Interior for more than 20 years," he said, noting that the "nature of the explosives ISIL uses to booby trap cities, corpses, roads and everything else calls for additional skills".

Thousands were forced to flee Mosul after ISIL overran the city, he said, adding that he hopes the skills he will learn will help speed up the IEDs removal process so Iraqis can return to their homes.

"ISIL is constantly developing its booby-trapping skills and so we need constant training," said Ali, noting that "the training we receive in Jordan in this prestigious centre is highly professional and advanced".

Returning to liberate Iraq

Ali's colleague, explosives dismantling officer Haidar Suleiman, told Al-Mashareq he has taken part in several military operations to remove hundreds of IEDs in Anbar, Baiji and other liberated areas.

"I have many friends who were killed by ISIL" or left their homes in Mosul, he said, adding that upon his return to Iraq he hopes to participate in the effort to remove IEDs from liberated areas to enable people to return to their homes.

"We will return to Iraq to liberate our homeland from ISIL terrorists," he said.

The additional training the Iraqi officers received in Jordan will "help us defeat ISIL and restore stability to Iraq", he added.

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