Additional Georgian troops, who will be sent to Iraq in June, will be deployed in the province of Wasit to patrol the city of Al Kut, which is 185 kilometers south-east of Baghdad, and the border with Iran, Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili said in an interview with RFR/RL Georgian Service.
Georgia plans to increase its presence in Iraq from the current 850 to 2,000 servicemen.
In a portion of the interview broadcast on May 30, Kezerashvili said that currently the province is regarded as one of the “calmest places” in Iraq.
“But there is certain information available according to which weapons are smuggled from Iran into Iraq via this [Wasit] province and currently there is no reaction to this [smuggling of arms]. But the Georgian soldiers will have to react to this, which means that a certain level of tension will be triggered,” Kezerashvili said.
“I would not say that the province of Wasit is more dangerous than the place where the Georgian troops are currently deployed – the city of Baqubah [50 km to the northeast of Baghdad]. Baqubah is one of the hot spots in Iraq. But the task of our troops in Baqubah is different. There they have only to guard a base and a bridge; they do not have to patrol there,” the defense minister said.
“The difference between these two missions will be the fact that now we will have to patrol Al Kut and the Georgian troops will be in charge of the entire province of Wasit,” he added.