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NATO mission in Iraq not disrupted by tension over Iran

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. Reuters/Joshua Roberts
The head of the NATO mission in Iraq has said that the recent increase in tension between the US and Iran has not hampered the alliance’s work in the country.

Washington ordered the evacuation of non-emergency staff from its Baghdad embassy last month, due to an alleged growing threat from Iranian-linked Iraqi militias.

Canadian Gen. Dany Fortin, who leads NATO’s 500-strong training and advisory mission in Iraq, said his forces had “sufficiently mitigated” the threat and were able to continue working.

According to Fortin, his forces had “sufficiently mitigated” the threat from Iran and were not affected by current heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington.

Last month, the White House announced it was dispatching an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the region in response to intelligence that Tehran was planning an attack against US targets, interests, or allies.

Shortly after, the US State Department ordered the departure of non-emergency US government employees from its embassy in Baghdad and consulate-general in the Kurdistan Region’s Erbil, as well as the suspension of normal visa services.

The German and Dutch Defense Ministries also temporarily paused their training missions in Iraq, although the Netherlands resumed its program a few days later.

Led by Canada, NATO’s non-combat mission includes hundreds of trainers and also involves setting up military schools to increase the professionalism of Iraqi forces.