Paramilitary commandos may soon be deployed to guard the Indian Embassy and diplomatic staff in war-ravaged Iraq, following threats from the banned Islamic State (ISIS) terror groups, officials said.
An in-principle approval for the deployment of an armed squad at the complex located in the Al Mansour area of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad has been accorded by the Union ministries of home and external affairs, they said.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) has been tasked to provide its best combat personnel for the job.
They said that the commandos will have a specific task of securing the Embassy, its diplomatic staff and their families against terror threats.
"Given the constant threat of the ISIS terror group in Iraq, it was being discussed for a long time that the Indian Embassy there should have a professional security cover," a senior official privy to the development said.
"The effort to send the paramilitary commandos is a move in that direction. However, the final approval for stationing the squad in Baghdad is yet to be given by the government," the official said.
While there has been no targeted hit at the Indian mission in Baghdad, the city has witnessed suicide attacks and bombings by the ISIS terrorists.
The proposed contingent would not only guard the Embassy complex, but also provide a proximate security cover to senior diplomats and staffers every time they move out of the facility, he said.
Once cleared, the proposed contingent will be about 45-50 personnel strong and headed by a deputy commandant (DC) rank officer of the CRPF.
The commandos, who are highly motivated, having done a stint in the anti-Naxal operations, the forces' elite commando squad for jungle warfare CoBRA and who have been the "best performers" will be part of the proposed contingent, the official said.
The personnel will have to be adept in handling improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and in conducting special operations and hostage rescue tasks, it said.
This will be the first such overseas task for the about 3-lakh personnel strong paramilitary force. While the Indian Embassy in Afghanistan is guarded by the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), those in Nepal and Colombo have the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Border Security Force (BF) contingents respectively.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) is the country's largest paramilitary and is primarily designated as the lead internal security and anti-Maoist operations conducting force.