World

Poland to join fight v Islamic State in return for NATO help in east

Warsaw: Poland will join the fight against Islamic State, its defence minister said on Wednesday, though he signalled that the scale of its involvement would depend on NATO's response to Russia's renewed assertiveness on the alliance's eastern flank.

The announcement, made by Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz​ after a meeting with US Defence Secretary Ash Carter in Brussels, confirmed an earlier Reuters report that Poland would boost its Middle East involvement in an attempt to convince its allies to shift NATO forces eastwards.

Polish soldiers in Babylon, Iraq, in 2003. Polish troops are again on their way to the Middle East to join the fight ...
Polish soldiers in Babylon, Iraq, in 2003. Polish troops are again on their way to the Middle East to join the fight against Islamic State. Photo: AP

"Poland has joined the actions, which are now so crucial, on NATO's southern flank," Mr Macierewicz told reporters.

"When it comes to details ... we will continue to discuss it, particularly as we consider it in the broad context of NATO's situation, hoping that both the US and NATO as a whole will back Poland and other countries on the eastern flank with their ... permanent presence."

A US Army soldier shows a gun to a woman during the ''Dragoon Ride'' military exercise in Lithuania last year. The ...
A US Army soldier shows a gun to a woman during the ''Dragoon Ride'' military exercise in Lithuania last year. The exercise was designed to reinforce America's allies, which include Poland. Photo: AP

Alarmed by Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula in 2014 and its support for armed separatists in eastern Ukraine, Poland hopes NATO will agree at a summit in Warsaw in July to send more troops to former communist eastern Europe.

NATO agreed on Wednesday its boldest steps yet to deter Russia from any attack in the Baltics or elsewhere in eastern Europe, setting out ways to rapidly deploy air, naval and ground forces without resorting to Cold War-era military bases.

The United States and its allies are bombing IS targets in Syria and Iraq, where the militant group occupies swaths of territory.

Poland's contribution to the campaign against IS could involve reconnaissance and training, Mr Macierewicz said.

US Defence Secretary Ash Carter met Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz in Brussels before the Pole announced his ...
US Defence Secretary Ash Carter met Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz in Brussels before the Pole announced his country would join the fight against Islamic State. Photo: AP

NATO defence ministers are meeting in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday in preparation for the Warsaw summit.

Reuters

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