Photographer: Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

NATO to Deploy Surveillance Aircraft to Bolster Anti-IS Effort

  • Airborne warning and control systems won’t be used in battle
  • NATO to start training Iraqi army in Iraq early 2017

NATO will start deploying surveillance aircraft next month to support the U.S.-led fight against Islamic State, Alexander Vershbow, deputy secretary general of NATO, said Monday.

The deployment of the airborne warning and control systems will take place after alliance defense ministers meet in October, Vershbow said at a meeting at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

“The aircraft will provide significant information to the coalition led by the U.S. against ISIS,” Vershbow said, using one of Islamic State’s acronyms. “Our aircraft will not be used for battle management, but will support coalition aircraft in surveillance.”

NATO is not part of the the U.S., European and Arab coalition that began bombing Islamic State two years ago, after the militant group captured Mosul, Iraq’s biggest northern city, and declared a caliphate straddling parts of Syria and Iraq. Since the bombing campaign began, extremists linked to the group have proliferated and murdered hundreds in Europe, including Brussels, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.

NATO is also training members of the Iraqi army in Jordan and will start doing so from Iraq early next year.

In an interview after the meeting, Vershbow said thousands of Iraqi forces will be trained. “We are discussing areas of priority with the Iraqis,” he said. “We want to strengthen the Iraqi army defense capabilities to help them defeat ISIS.”

— With assistance by Donna Abu-Nasr

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