After supporting Iraq's war to defeat the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS), the international coalition now plays a key role in training Iraqi forces to lead the effort of ousting the group's remnants, an official and analysts told Diyaruna.
The coalition recently announced that 240,000 fighters from the Iraqi army, police and tribes, in addition to the Kurdish Peshmerga, have received training at the hands of coalition advisors over the past several years.
These include 47,000 who were trained at the Taji base north of Baghdad alone, it said in an August 28th statement, five days after it handed over the base to the Iraqi army.
The trainings have allowed the transfer of expertise to Iraqi forces and raised their readiness and ability to carry out security missions.
"The coalition was formed based on the request made by the (Iraqi) government to the international community to help defeat ISIS -- which in 2014 controlled one third of the country," said Maj. Gen. Tahseen al-Khafaji, a spokesman for the Joint Operations Command.
"During the war, the coalition provided our forces with simultaneous air cover, training and armament so that we could confront and contain the terrorist threat," he told Diyaruna.
"The trainings continued even after the war ended and we regained control of our land," he said, noting that they involve a host of military regiments, including artillery, armoured, infantry, special operations, mechanical engineering, intelligence, and medical units.
Iraqi forces have gained significant combat skills from these exercises, said al-Khafaji. "Today, our soldiers are more experienced in effectively dealing with terrorists."
The coalition, as previously agreed with the government, has handed over to Iraq eight military bases as it works toward reducing its footprint in the country.
But it continues to work with Iraqi forces on training, air support, reconnaissance and intelligence exchange, al-Khafaji said, a sign of the "depth of our partnership and the international commitment to stand with Iraq".
ISIS threat persists
The coalition has provided Iraq with military equipment and vehicles and has helped expand and develop its military bases, political analyst Maher Abed Jodah told Diyaruna.
Additionally, coalition airstrikes are crucial in the continuing war against ISIS, he said.
ISIS still poses a threat and might regain a foothold, he said, pointing to the recent uptick in terror attacks staged by the group.
Iraqi forces must continue to co-operate with the international coalition until ISIS has been completely eradicated, said Jodah.
Political analyst Atheer al-Shari agreed that ISIS remnants and sleeper cells still pose a threat, but he expressed confidence in the ability of Iraqi forces to overcome these challenges.
"The defensive and offensive capabilities of our forces have grown over the past years, and they now have high-level skills in managing security and combat operations in more complex environments," he told Diyaruna.
This is evidenced by the Iraqi forces' quality reconnaissance operations and the discovery and targeting of enemy sites in agricultural and desert lands.
"We are certain that the remaining terrorists will not be able to withstand the operational momentum of our forces," said Shari.