Thousands of Iraqis who arrived in Finland last year have decided to cancel their asylum applications and return home, with some saying they dislike the frosty weather and find the locals unfriendly.
More than 4,100 applications for asylum have been cancelled, officials say, with Finland chartering flights to take the refugees back to Baghdad from next week.
Though the majority say they yearn to be reunited with their families, others are simply disillusioned with the Nordic way of life, according to a local travel agent in Helsinki.
Muhiadin Hassan, who is selling up to twenty tickets to Baghdad each day, told Reuters: “Some say they don’t like the food here, it’s too cold or they don’t feel welcome in Finland. There are many reasons.”
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RAF fighter pilots have been filmed destroying an ISIS held building in Iraq with two laser guided Brimstone missiles.
The footage shows precision rockets, which are said to cost £175,000 a piece, flying through the window before exploding.
The terror group’s machine gunners were firing on Iraqi troops in Ramadi, just 60 miles from Baghdad, when the British jets flew over and levelled the structure.
Typhoon jets used a Paveway rocket to destroy an excavator which was converted into a giant booby trap and hidden amongst the trees in Ramadi later that day.
Footage of that strike, which also took place on February 3, showed the large vehicle being torn apart by the laser guided weapon. Read more »
Lefty academic Paul Buchanan says that the NZSAS must join the fight in Iraq against Daesh.
The United States has asked New Zealand to provide special operations troops to the coalition against Isis (Islamic State). The Government has said it will consider the request but the Prime Minister has qualified the response, stating that he does not think New Zealand will increase its contribution beyond the company-sized training complement currently deployed at Camp Taji outside Baghdad.
The PM’s caution has more to do with domestic political concerns than the practical or diplomatic necessities of the conflict. With a thin majority thanks to Winston Peter’s by-election victory in Northland, National cannot risk parliamentary defeat on the issue. But Opposition leader Andrew Little has signalled that Labour is willing to consider sending SAS troops to the fight, so the ground is clearing for authorisation of a new phase of the New Zealand mission.
This was predictable from the moment the NZ Defence Force first deployed to Iraq last May.
Predictable but stymied by intransigence from the Maori party. That may have changed now with Andrew Little’s flip-flop and the Iraqi army showing some resolve after Ron Mark called them cowards.
It was clear then, and it is now, that training Iraqi soldiers is not enough to turn the tide. The training is good and the troops that graduate have improved professional skills, but according to a report prepared by the US Defence Department immediately before Mr Key travelled to Taji in October, they are no better in battle than they were before the training mission began.
The problem lies with the Iraqi Army leadership. Iraqi field rank officers are not included in the training programme and are by and large unwilling or unable to demonstrate the type of leadership skills under fire that are required to make best use of the training received by their soldiers from the NZDF and its allies.
That is where special operations troops like New Zealand’s SAS are useful. Among many other roles they serve as leadership advisers on the battlefield. Because of their exceptional skills and hardened discipline, SAS teams serve as force multipliers in the field by adding tactical acumen, physical resilience and steadfastness of purpose to the fight. They lead by example.
Pretty impressive shooting from an SAS sniper and his .50cal sniper rifle:
An expert SAS sniper took out three ISIS bombers by shooting through a 10inch wall, from a kilometre away with the world’s most powerful rifle.
The marksman, considered one of the best in the special forces, fired 30 armour-piercing rounds from his Barrett Light .50 calibre rifle into a two-storey command post in the city of Ramadi in Iraq.
The daring and skillfully executed mission which was called a ‘classic SAS operation’ saved the lives of around 20 people according to military sources.
Holding the rank of staff-sergeant, the sniper was part of an elite team of military advisers embedded in the Iraqi army.
After discovering that the bombers were in the building, a number of offensive options were considered including an air strike and a rocket launch.
However, both were deemed too dangerous to civilians as a number of innocent people were being used as human shields around the property.
A source told the Daily Star Sunday: ‘The SAS always like to think out of the box. Read more »
The NZ Herald has a new poll showing support for our mission in Iraq has grown.
Support in New Zealand for the deployment of Kiwi trainers to Iraq to help in the fight against Isis has increased, according to the latest Herald DigiPoll survey, and opposition to it has declined.
Just over 63 per cent support the deployment, up by 3.9 points since the same question was asked at the beginning of the deployment in April.
Opposition has reduced by 4.4 points to 30.1 per cent.
The New Zealand Defence Force is running a joint training mission with the Australian Defence Force at Camp Taji, north of Baghdad.
About 105 New Zealand personnel are based at the camp and a further 40 are deployed in support roles in the region. Read more »
Gerry Brownlee is chuffed – our troops helped to train the Iraqi soldiers who took Ramadi off Daesh.
Iraqi troops trained by New Zealand soldiers were among those who took the city of Ramadi from Islamic State, Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says.
Victory in Ramadi, which was seized by IS in May, is the first major triumph for Iraq’s mainly US-trained army since it collapsed in the face of an assault by the hardline Sunni militants 18 months ago.
The city, 130km west of Baghdad, was taken earlier this week.
“The success of these troops results from their commitment to the training programme they have been involved in. New Zealand and Australian trainers can take some pride over the successful action by the recruits,” Mr Brownlee said on Thursday. Read more »
ISIS have left the government complex in Ramadi, the last stronghold of the militants in the Iraqi city, after days of fighting Iraqi special forces.
All ISIS fighters have reportedly retreated from the compound, raising hope that government forces will be able to retake the city, which was captured by the jihadist group in May.
Recapturing Ramadi, the provincial capital of Anbar, would be one of the most significant victories for Iraq’s armed forces since ISIS swept across a third of the country in 2014.
‘All Daesh (ISIS) fighters have left. There is no resistance,’ Sabah al-Numan, spokesman of Iraq’s elite counter-terrorism service, said Sunday.
‘Our forces have surrounded the government complex. They are checking all entrances and surrounding buildings before moving in. Read more »
Andrew Little has flip-flopped on Labour’s position of involving the NZSAS in the fight against Daesh.
Labour leader Andrew Little said Labour would support sending SAS troops to fight Isis if the right conditions were met.
Those conditions were having a clear and realistic objective, that it would have to be part of a multinational mission mandated by the United Nations and that the level of risk needed to be acceptable.
“Troops on ground as part of a multinational force, targeting those areas where Isis has a stronghold and those areas where they have seized oil refineries and those sorts of things to defeat them in those sorts of areas – it is going to take more than just air strikes,” he said.
Asked if that meant he thought there was a place for troops on the ground with the stipulated conditions he said: Yes. If they are in the right place, properly mandated, and with a realistic objective then yes there is.”
Phil Goff likes to make things up. He told us that Don Brash told the Americans that our nuclear policy would be “gone by lunch time”, he made that up. He told us he’d never been briefed about Israeli tourists, he made that up too. He told reporters that he hadn’t dyed his hair in the lead up to the 2011 election, he made that up too.
Now he is saying that New Zealand shouldn’t assist in Iraq and Syria because there isn’t a UN mandate.
Labour defence spokesman Phil Goff said New Zealand should not rush into any additional commitments in Iraq, given how easily military deployments could escalate in duration and resources.
“It’s easy to be drawn into conflicts – exit strategies are much harder.”
Goff said it was not clear how much had been achieved by trainers in the current deployment, while the Iraqi Army had issues with poor leadership and bad living conditions for soldiers.
New Zealand would “almost certainly” be asked to send special forces soldiers to Iraq, but should not do so unless clear preconditions were met.
Goff said any intervention to fight IS should be UN-sanctioned, there needed to be “clear and achievable objectives”, and there should be an acceptable level of risk.
“The decision to go should not be made simply to be a member of the club.”
Obviously Te Ururoa Flavell is still resisting joining the fight against Daesh. It is his party that John Key is nervous of when it comes to committing to getting stuck in to Daesh.
The United States has requested an increased commitment from New Zealand, but John Key is apprehensive.
United States Secretary of Defence Ashton Carter is stepping up the fight against Islamic State by putting troops on the frontline to fight.
“The United States is prepared to assist the Iraqi army with additional unique capabilities to help them finish the job,” Mr Carter says.
The American Special Forces troops will accompany Iraqi forces in the battle to take back the city of Ramadi. Read more »