The Norwegian parliament has given the green light for Norwegian special troops of the feared Telemark Battalion to be sent into Syria to fight against the terrorist group the Islamic State (IS).
It became clear after a closed meeting of the Parliamentary expanded defense and foreign affairs committee on Wednesday morning.
Most believed that the controversial decision to send Norwegian troops into Syria would not be discussed by the parliament before the autumn.
But because of what Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide calls "greater progress than we could have expected" in the fight against IS, the proposal was discussed in a closed meeting already today.
Telemark Battalion is the primary source of international contributions from the Norwegian Army.
The Norwegian special troops will be stationed northeast of Jordan. Here they will train people who will become part of the anti-IS alliance's new prestige project - New Syrian Army (NSyA), and then join them on the battlefield in Syria.
Norway has previously sent some troops to Iraq, but then it was decided that they would only train Iraqi forces. This time, however, it is intended that the soldiers will enter into Syria to show the "trainees" what it actually means to combat ISIS.
It has raised some concern though, as Russia last week bombed a group of US-backed FSA jihadists - failing to spot one jihadist from another.
Middle East researcher Cecilie Hellstveit says to VG:
- Norway is one of very few NATO countries that has a border with Russia. To end up in direct confrontation with Russia in Syria will have very different consequences for Norway than it would for Denmark or Britain.
According to several sources, the group that the Norwegian troops will train, is better equipped and trained than other insurgent groups. And unlike the rest of the chaotic collection of jihadists who fight in the civil war in Syria, NSyA's purpose is ONLY to fight against the terrorist group ISIS - not to interfere in other parts of the war.
But Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is not particularly impressed, neither by the group or the Norwegian decision of sending troops into his territory without permission.
- Such a decision represents a gross and unacceptable interference in the affairs of a state, and is a shameless violation of sovereignty, security and stability, it says in a statement from the Syrian Foreign Ministry.
But al-Assad should instead be happy, because there is absolutely no doubt that the Norwegian special forces will have a great impact on the number of dead ISIS terrorists.
Former US sergeant of the 82nd Airborne Division, Charles Stanley, previously said this about the Telemark Battalion - also called the "Punisher Battalion" - which battle cry is "To Valhalla!"
'ISIS should fear them for sure.'
'My take on them is that they were a very aggressive and rugged team of warriors.'
'They had the attitude of whatever comes our way we will demolish it, be that from eating chow to driving their mechanized vehicles.'
'There was no half way with them - it was all or nothing in everything they did. I have a long history with airborne paratroopers and they are some of the toughest soldiers in the army, on and off duty . . .
'ISIS is a force of uncontrolled chaos and they have no discipline or defined battlefield strategy other than overcome by force.'
'This well-trained and disciplined unit of Norwegian soldiers would be able to make very short work of any ISIS soldiers they encountered.'
'I would say compared to other country's soldiers they were among some of the most competitive and competent warriors that I have ever worked with.'
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