(Photo: Davor Puklavec/PIXSELL) (Photo: Davor Puklavec/PIXSELL)

Krstičević, who is in Brussels for a meeting of NATO defense ministers, said five Croatian soldiers would be returning to continue the mission in Iraq. At the same time, the minister said the security of the Croatian personnel was paramount.

"It was agreed that everything will return to the starting position as of 4 January which means that NATO's mission in Iraq will continue. A document arrived last night from the Iraqi government which supports and guarantees the safety of NATO personnel, hence a decision has been made for soldiers to gradually return," said Krstičević.

Discussions during the two-day meeting focused on ongoing NATO missions around the world, cooperation between the EU and NATO, and increased defense spending for member-states.

Croatia has 438 soldiers and personnel taking part in seven NATO operations around the world.

 Source: HRT