training mission iraq coalition
© AP Photo / Khalid Mohammed
Iraqi, US and Spanish soldiers participate in a training mission outside Baghdad, Iraq
Spain is planning to withdraw in late July its troops from the Gran Capitan military base in the Iraqi city of Bismayah, which is Madrid's most important base in the Middle Eastern country, as troops have completed their mission to train Iraqi security forces, El Pais newspaper reported on Monday, citing military sources.

According to the newspaper, before the coronavirus pandemic, the base, which is one of the Building Partner Capacity (BPC) centres run by the US-led international coalition, hosted 350 out of 530 Spanish service members in Iraq. In mid-April, Spain temporarily withdrew 200 soldiers due to the spread of the virus.

Since the base has completed its mission, Spain will send a new contingent to Iraq to collect material from the site and prepare to return the facility to the Iraqi authorities, the newspaper reported.

After the withdrawal of troops from the Bismayah base, Spain will continue to operate its Task Force Toro, which consists of 80 members of airborne force Famet stationed at the Taji base in Iraq, along with Spanish special operatives training and assisting the Iraqi security forces in Baghdad and Al Taqaddum, with 40 and 70 troops at each site, respectively.

The newspaper added that the Spanish Defence Ministry was also planning to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021, before the 14-month deadline for the complete withdrawal of US and allied forces comes to an end, under the peace deal reached by the United States and the Taliban in late February.

On 20 March, the US-led international coalition announced the reduction of its personnel on several Iraqi bases due to the coronavirus pandemic, among other reasons. The coalition added that military drills would resume as soon as the epidemiological situation improves.