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January 8, 2020

Canada, Germany to pull some of troops out of Iraq

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January 8, 2020

BERLIN, OTTAWA: Canada and Germany will pull out an undisclosed number of troops from Iraq in the wake of rising tensions between the US and Iran after the killing of Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds Force Maj General Qasem Soleimani in a US drone strike in Iraq.

Canadian Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Jon Vance sent families of Canadian Forces personnel a letter Tuesday outlining how the military is keeping their loved ones safe, reports the international media.

“Over the coming days,and as a result of Coalition and Nato planning, some of our people will be moved temporarily from Iraq to Kuwait. Simply put, we are doing this to ensure their safety and security,” Vance wrote.

The Canadian Forces had temporarily suspended training activities in Iraq as a result of increase in tensions. “The news coming out of the Middle East is alarming for many of you, as such I thought it best to communicate with you directly to provide an update on Canada’s missions in the region, and more importantly, the status and well-being of your family and friends deployed in Iraq and Kuwait and elsewhere in the Region,” Vance told the families.

“First and foremost, let me assure you that all necessary force protection measures that can be taken have been taken. The safety and security of Canadian Armed Forces personnel is my priority, as it is the priority of my senior leadership. Force protection measures continue to be considered, reassessed, and modified as required on a daily basis.”

Vance confirmed there are about 500 Canadians in Iraq. Some are assigned to what the Canadian Forces call Operation Impact while others are part of a NATO training mission. The Canadian military personnel are training and advising Iraqis troops.

“The situation in Iraq is complex and it is best to pause our work there in order to fully concentrate our attention and efforts towards the safety and security of our personnel while the situation develops,” Vance added in his letter.

“Despite the operational pause in Iraq, our mission in the Middle East carries-on with multiple other operations in the region,” Vance noted. “Naturally, the work we are doing on these missions, and the future of operations in Iraq, remain conditional on maintaining a sufficiently secure and productive operational environment.”

Germany said it had temporarily withdrawn some of its troops deployed as part of the anti-IS coalition in Iraq, in the latest fallout over the US drone strike that killed a top Iranian general.

A total of 32 German soldiers based in Camp Taji near Baghdad were flown by a military transporter A400m to the al-Azraq airforce base in Jordan, the German military said in a statement. Three German soldiers stationed in Baghdad, the headquarters of the coalition fighting against the Islamic State jihadist group, were transferred to Kuwait.

"These troops can be brought back at any time if the training in Iraq is to resume," the statement added. "The safety of our soldiers remains a top priority." Germany has deployed about 415 soldiers as part of the anti-IS coalition, with about 120 of its troops stationed in Iraq.

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