Lithuania is considering the United States' request to send troops to Syria to replace the American troops being withdrawn and help to eliminate the remains of the Islamic State.
© AFP / Scanpix

Lithuania's Ministry of National Defense says the United States asked allies for support in Syria during the meeting of NATO defense ministers in late June.

"During the recent meeting of NATO defense ministers, the US asked for greater contribution from the anti-IS coalition's countries, also over support in Syria, to be more precise. Lithuania is considering all support options," Austra Vaitkeviciuse, spokeswoman for the ministry, told BNS Lithuania.

Lithuania has already sent six instructions to Iraq to train local forces.

During the BNS Lithuania-organized presidential debate in April, candidates were asked on whether they would agree to send troops to Syria. And neither incoming President Gitanas Nauseda, nor Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis were against the idea.

"We are a responsible partner of our allies and as a responsible partner, we accept all related commitments, rights and duties," Nauseda said. "They get invaluable combat experience there (during international operations – BNS Lithuania), which might serve to the purpose in the future."

The prime minister also said that sending Lithuanian troops to Syria would show commitment and would be an importance combat experience.

"We should remember our all key goals, and if we speak about partnership, then partners are very important both in times of need and in times of joy. If such support were necessary, it would be legitimized," the prime minister said.

The United Kingdom and France have already agreed to send more of their special operations troops to Syria, but Germany has refused to do so.

President Donald Trump pledged last year to withdraw around 2,000-2,500 troops from Syria but move back from this decision slightly and vowed to leave a peace-keeping force of around 400 people in the country.

Although the Islamic State has lost a major part of its former territory in Syria and Iraq, there are concerns that too-swift withdrawal of international forces might allow it to regroup.

Around 170 Lithuanian troops are now taking part in eleven international operations in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Mali or Ukraine.

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