NATO pulls some troops from Iraq as Iran-US tensions mount

BRUSSELS, Ella Joyner (dpa)- NATO is temporarily pulling some of its troops out of Iraq due to the heightened security risk posed by the confrontation between Iran and the United States.
In the interest of safety NATO will take measures including "the temporary repositioning of some personnel to different locations both inside and outside of Iraq," a NATO official said.

"NATO maintains a presence in Iraq. And we are prepared to continue our training and capacity-building when the situation permits," he added.
NATO had already suspended its training operations on the ground after the killing of top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani by the United States sent tensions spiralling in recent days.
The defence alliance's non-combat mission involves around 500 personnel whose main task is to train Iraqi authorities in their fight to eradicate the Islamic State and prevent its return. It was set up in 2018 following a request from Baghdad.
NATO is active at three sites in Iraq, according to its own information: in Baghdad, and in nearby Besmaya and Taji.
But after the killing of Soleimani in Baghdad, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution calling for an end to the presence of foreign troops linked to the US-led alliance fighting the Islamic State terrorist group.
Fourteen personnel from the Croatian contingent of the NATO mission were moved from Baghdad to Kuwait, the Ministry of Defence in Zagreb announced. Seven more had completed their mission and have been flown back home.
Canada's military said it was temporarily pausing its operations in Iraq and will send some personnel to neighbouring Kuwait for "safety and security" reasons.
The suspension affects both the NATO training mission and the US-led operation hunting the remnants of Islamic State, known as Operation Impact. About 500 Canadian troops are deployed in total.
The German military also flew some of its troops - engaged as part of the US-led, anti-Islamic State coalition separate from the NATO mission - out of Iraq this week.
Thirty-two men and women serving at the Taji military complex were taken to the Al-Asrak airbase in Jordan, the Bundeswehr said on Tuesday, following the removal of three personnel one day prior.
French Defence Minister Florence Parly said on Tuesday that Paris has strengthened the protection of its 160 soldiers serving in Iraq as part of the international coalition there.
"Everything is being done to ensure their security," Parly tweeted. France has about 1,000 soldiers deployed in Syria, Iraq and Jordan.

Tuesday, January 7th 2020
Ella Joyner (dpa)

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