Czech Republic ready to do more in war against ISIS

Photo: CTK

The Czech military has dispatched another consignment of munitions and hand grenades to Bagdad where it is to assist the Iraqi military and Kurdish fighters in the war against the Islamic State. According to Defense Minister Martin Stropnický, the Czech Republic is likewise ready to respond to France’s need in assisting its intensified operation against IS headquarters in Raqqa.

Photo: CTK
Hundreds of tons of munition and hand grenades released for Iraq by the Czech military were picked up by US cargo planes on Thursday to be flown to Bagdad within a broad effort to boost the position of anti-Islamic State fighters. The current consignment represents about a sixth of the overall amount of munition the Czech military is sending and the government is to decide in the coming weeks on a plan to send 6,000 weapons as well.

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said in the wake of the terrorist attacks in Paris that the Czech Republic was ready to assist the destruction of the Islamic State to the best of its abilities and according to Czech Defense Minister Martin Stropnický the military is ready to make a contribution within a coordinated international effort. He also said the country was ready to respond to a request for assistance from France which in the wake of the attacks intensified strikes against IS headquarters in Raqqa. According to the defense minister individual assistance from EU member states will be negotiated on a bilateral basis and may involve requests to step in for France elsewhere.

Martin Stropnický,  photo: CTK
“France may need to regroup its fighters and focus more on the military strikes against ISIS. For instance we are serving together in Mali and the Czech Republic would be ready to step in for France there by sending more troops. We will also respond to the needs of the alliance depending on how the situation develops. If there should be a ground operation – and that is still a big IF – then the Czech Republic could participate with its anti-chemical unit or field hospital as it did in the Persian Gulf War.”

The Czech prime minister said cooperation between the French and Czech intelligence services had intensified following the attacks and repeated that his country was ready to assist France to the best of its means and abilities. While bigger operations –such as sending more soldiers to Mali or deploying the army’s anti-chemical unit - would require approval from Parliament, such proposals are not expected to meet with opposition. There is general agreement across the political spectrum on the need to show solidarity and win this war and on this matter the Czech government has broad support in both chambers of Parliament.