Norway intensifies efforts to fight ISIL

‘The advance of ISIL affects our security. We are now stepping up Norway’s efforts by increasing our contribution to the international coalition against ISIL,’ said Prime Minister Erna Solberg.

ISIL has used extreme violence to take control of areas in Syria and Iraq. Armed conflict and ISIL’s brutal campaign of violence have forced people to flee their homes in fear and desperation. ISIL poses a threat far beyond the region. Europe is also being subjected to acts of terrorism and violence, as we have seen in Paris, Brussels and Turkey.

‘ISIL’s ideology and brutal actions have resulted in the deaths of a great many civilians, and have forced many more people to flee. ISIL has brought violence and terror to Europe, and has radicalised young people and recruited them as foreign terrorist fighters. The international community must stand united in fighting ISIL’s ideology and actions, and use a range of different tools. We are now stepping up Norway’s efforts by increasing our contribution to the international coalition against ISIL, both by providing a new military contribution and by strengthening our civilian efforts,’ said Ms Solberg.

New military contribution

The Government has decided to make a new military contribution to the international coalition’s operation. The contingent of around 60 soldiers will provide training, advice and operational support to local Syrian groups that are fighting against ISIL. Norway’s contribution will include personnel from the Norwegian special forces. The Norwegian troops will be based in Jordan.  

‘The coalition has asked for this type of assistance, and our contribution is greatly valued. The fighting itself will be done by others, but we can help by enhancing their combat capabilities,’ said Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide.

This operation is such that the Norwegian forces would have a mandate to train, advise and provide operational support from Syrian territory if the concept of operations calls for this. If the concept of operations is expanded and the situation requires the provision of training and support on Syrian territory, the Government will ask the Storting to consider this as a separate matter.

‘The Minister of Foreign Affairs and I have briefed the Storting’s Enlarged Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee about the operation, and the Government attaches great importance to keeping the Storting informed of developments in the fight against ISIL and of Norway’s contributions,’ said Ms Søreide.

There is broad international agreement on the need to fight ISIL. More than 65 countries and organisations have joined the international coalition against ISIL, including Western countries and countries in the region.

UN Security Council resolution 2249 called on all UN member states to consider the possibility of strengthening their efforts in the fight against ISIL in Iraq and Syria. This resolution treats Iraq and Syria as one area when it comes to the extent of ISIL’s presence and efforts to fight ISIL. On behalf of the coalition, the US and France have requested that Norway steps up its military and civilian efforts.

‘ISIL must be fought in both Syria and Iraq. The collective self-defence of Iraq provides a legal basis under international law for carrying out this fight in Syria, too. Security Council resolution 2249 supports this,’ said Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.

‘We will also provide a limited number of personnel to enhance knowledge about foreign terrorist fighters in the region. We need better situational awareness in order to prevent extremism and radicalisation in the region and in Europe,’ said Ms Solberg.  

Strengthening Norway’s military contribution in the fight against ISIL may increase the threat to Norway. However, doing nothing also poses a risk. The reason we are taking part in the coalition is precisely to combat ISIL and thus reduce the risk of terrorist attacks on Norwegian and European soil. The decision to strengthen Norway’s military contribution is the result of a comprehensive assessment.

‘We cannot allow threats from terrorist organisations to dictate our security policy. Fighting ISIL is a long-term investment in our own security,’ said Minister of Defence Ine Eriksen Søreide.

Civilian efforts

Norway has also stepped up its civilian efforts in the region.

‘In 2016 Norway will provide a total of NOK 200 million for stabilisation measures in Iraq and Syria. It is important to help stabilise vulnerable areas in Iraq and Syria, both in order to assist the civilian population in areas where ISIL has been pushed back, and in order to prevent other extremist groups from gaining a foothold,’ said Mr Brende.

In Syria there will also be a need for landmine detection, mapping and clearance, once areas are liberated from ISIL. This year, Norway is willing to contribute up to NOK 50 million for this purpose, in addition to its support for stabilisation measures. Norway will provide NOK 10 billion over the next four years. This is Norway’s  largest ever humanitarian contribution.