Middle EastPolitics

Germany pauses Iraq training but says no ‘concrete threat’ to military personnel

Germany has halted its training of soldiers in Iraq, a defense ministry spokesperson said Wednesday, May 15 as tensions rise between neighboring Iran and the United States.

“The German army has suspended the training,” defense ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff said, adding that there was “generally heightened alert, awareness” for soldiers currently operating in the region.

Flosdorff said training may well resume in the next days and that there was “no concrete threat” at the moment.

Germany has no indications of its own of attacks supported by Iran, Reuters reported him as saying.

Earlier on Wednesday the U.S. Department of State ordered non-emergency personnel to leave the American embassy in Baghdad and consulate in Erbil, citing “the increased threat stream we are seeing in Iraq.”

Germany has about 160 soldiers deployed in Iraq, including 60 in Taji, to the north of Baghdad, and 100 in Erbil, in Iraqi Kurdistan.

German soldiers recently trained Peshmerga officers in Erbil to identify and destroy chemical weapons left by Islamic State as part of wider explosive ordinance disposal training, and has trained Peshmerga personnel in Iraq and Germany as part of the Coalition against ISIS.

Separately, the Netherlands’ defense ministry said it was also suspending its training mission in Iraq due to “threats,” the Dutch ANP news agency said.

More than 50 Dutch soldiers are training Kurdish troops in Erbil, ANP said.

The defense ministry website says the Netherlands also supplies two military advisers and four civilian experts to the NATO “capacity-building mission” in Baghdad.

Lithuania, which has eight soldiers in Iraq, said it did not plan to halt its mission.

With reporting from AFP

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