New Zealand troops who were stationed at Camp Taji in Iraq are coming home.
Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Defence Minister Ron Mark made the announcement today, saying it followed the successful conclusion of the mission at Taji to train Iraqi forces.
"New Zealand is very pleased to have fulfilled its commitment to the Iraqi Government and the Defeat-Isis Coalition to train Iraqi Security Forces at Taji," Peters said in a statement.
Since December New Zealand has had 45 Defence Force personnel in Taji; 28 personnel arrived back in New Zealand last week and are in isolation at the Royal New Zealand Air Force base in Auckland.
The remainder will be returning to New Zealand later this week.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Cabinet had already decided to withdraw New Zealand troops from Iraq by June this year.
She said it was unfortunate that Covid-19 meant they had to self-isolate upon coming home.
"It had been my hope that we would be able to welcome them, but those who have already returned are in isolation, and those returning will also be put into self-isolation."
She said it was hard on the troops who will want to be reunited with their families, but all New Zealanders were making sacrifices including those who had lost loved ones or had cancelled wedding.
Mark said New Zealand troops, along with their Australian counterparts, have trained over 47,000 Iraqi Security Forces since 2015 to prevent the resurgence of Isis in the area
"New Zealand's military involvement in Iraq since 2015 has been part of our broader contribution to the Defeat-Isis Coalition."
Mark said the Government had decided to maintain an ongoing military contribution to the coalition.
"New Zealand currently deploys four NZDF personnel to Coalition Headquarters in Iraq and Kuwait, and five operational support roles based in Qatar. The mandate for these roles has been extended until June 2022."
Taji has been the site of attacks as recently as January and March this year.
No New Zealand personnel were injured in the March rocket attack, which claimed the lives of two US troops and a British service member.
At the time, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she was "constantly assessing the safety and the environment for our troops".
"I have had no reports that there were any concerns over and above those that we are constantly having to mitigate in such an environment."
The rockets landed 3km outside Camp Taji, north of Baghdad, where the 45 New Zealand personnel were based.
According to Reuters, the US launched a series of airstrikes against the Iran-backed militia responsible for the March attack.
In a statement, US Defence Secretary Mark Esper cautioned that the United States was prepared to respond again, if needed.
Peters said New Zealand's ongoing contribution to the coalition in Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar was a recognition of the enduring threat that a resurgent ISIS posed to global security, including towards New Zealand and New Zealanders abroad.
"Now more than ever New Zealand needs to be working with our partners in order to help keep our people safe."