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Countries Cut down on Troops in Iraq after Iran Strike

Countries Cut down on Troops in Iraq after Iran Strike

Wednesday, 8 January, 2020 - 09:00
France says it is not planning to withdraw troops from Iraq. (Reuters)
Asharq Al-Awsat

France is not planning to withdraw its 160 soldiers deployed in Iraq following Iranian missile strikes targeting US-led forces, a French government source told Reuters on Wednesday.

A French army spokesman previously said there had been no French military casualties in Iraq from the Iranian strikes.

Iran's action early on Wednesday was in retaliation for a US drone strike that killed top Iranian commander, Qassem Soleimani, in Baghdad, which has triggered fears of a new Middle East war. Iraq has since called American troops to quit the country.

Iranian officials said Tehran did not want a war and its strikes "concluded" its response to Soleimani’s killing.

US President Donald Trump said there were no American casualties in the strikes and that Tehran appeared to be standing down. He announced that the US will immediately place new sanctions on Tehran "until Iran changes its behavior."

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said all of his country's troops and diplomatic staff in Iraq are safe after Iran’s attack. Around 300 Australian defense personnel are stationed in Iraq.

Morrison said he spoke with Trump about the situation between the US and Iran on Tuesday during a call about the wildfires raging in Australia.

Spain has pulled out some of its troops from Iraq due to security concerns, acting Deputy Prime Minister Carmen Calvo said on Wednesday.

"Those who were in riskier positions have left for Kuwait," Calvo told state broadcaster RTVE. "There is only a reduced number left there."

The decision comes as NATO announced it would move some of its military training personnel out of Iraq amid fears of a regional conflagration.

Oxfam says it is restricting its humanitarian work in Iraq due to serious security concerns.

Oxfam's Iraq country director said in a statement Wednesday that humanitarian work, including cash aid, had been suspended in some areas of the country owing to travel difficulties and checkpoints on in remote areas. It added that some Oxfam staff had been relocated to other areas over fears of more violence.

Andres Gonzalez Rodriguez added that if the organization was forced to continue the suspension of aid for a few weeks, "100,000 of the most vulnerable people will be affected."

Oxfam runs 26 programs in five Iraqi governorates providing water and sanitation, food, cash and protection assistance, the statement said.

Denmark's prime minister said it will relocate some of its 141 troops in Iraq to neighboring Kuwait.

Mette Frederiksen added Wednesday that Danish forces will “continue” with their mission "to counter the ISIS” in Iraq, leaving behind “30-40” troops. There are 133 Danish troops at Ain al-Asad air base where they train and advise Iraqi forces.

Frederiksen told a news conference that the move was temporary, without providing further details.

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