Security


Afghanistan: Colombian soldiers to back Spanish troops




Madrid, 7 August (AKI) - A contingent of 100 Colombian troops is likely to join Spanish soldiers in Afghanistan in 2009 in a bid to help quell the violence which has resurfaced in the war-torn country in recent months.

Spain would provide Colombia with training, infrastructure and equipment. In return, Colombian troops would be involved in demining activities, military engineering activities as well as counter drug-trafficking.

The deployment of Colombian troops would provide much needed help and relief for Spanish troops which are currently stationed near Qal-I-Naw, capital of Baghdis province in north-western Afghanistan.

If it goes ahead with the plan, Colombia would be the first Latin American country to be part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force.

After the national government led by Alvaro Uribe approves the deployment, the troops would be stationed in Afghanistan from 2009.

Quoted by local daily 'El Colombiano', Gen. Freddy Padilla of the Colombian Armed Forces said that he was waiting for the government to make a decision.

Meanwhile, a unit from the Central American country of El Salvador is holding talks with the Spanish Ministry of Defence about providing troops for the United Nations Interim Force In Lebanon, a multinational force led by Spain, said Spanish daily El Pais.

Under a mandate issued by the Spanish Parliament, Spanish forces are not authorised to take part in any military action against the Taliban insurgency in the south and east of Afghanistan.

Spain is currently the tenth largest contingent in the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force or ISAF, with 778 soldiers, according to the Defence Ministry website.

ISAF has 53,000 troops from 40 countries in Afghanistan, NATO’s largest ground operation outside Europe.

Spain was one of the main supporters of the invasion of Iraq in 2003 by US forces. It withdrew its troops following the 11 March 2004 bombings at several Madrid railway stations that killed 191 people.

The Madrid bombings were perpetrated by a loose group of Al-Qaeda-inspired Muslim militants, allegedly in response to the presence of Spanish troops in Iraq.






 

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