Sweden to join US-led coalition against Islamic State

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters train with British military advisers (unseen) at a shooting range on the outskirts of Arbil, on November 5, 2014 (AFP Photo/Safin Hamed)

Stockholm (AFP) - Sweden will send up to 120 troops to northern Iraq to train Iraqi and Kurdish fighters as part of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State group, foreign minister Margot Wallstroem said Thursday.

"In the first stage 35 soldiers will take part in the mission but the number can rise to 120," Wallstroem told news agency TT.

"Increased military support is needed now."

She added that the Swedish troops will provide "military advice and training... not combat units" and that they will focus on Kurdish peshmerga forces.

"We're responding to a request from the Iraqi government... they can need everything from weapons training to mine sweeping," said Wallstroem.

The Swedish forces are expected to be in place in June and will be under US command. No end-date for their participation was announced.

The international coalition fighting IS in northern Iraq -- which includes Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway and Finland -- has been in place since August and has carried out airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.

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