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4 Jan, 2020 14:39

US-led coalition members suspend Iraq operations as region submerged in outrage over Iranian general’s killing

US-led coalition members suspend Iraq operations as region submerged in outrage over Iranian general’s killing

Members of the international coalition gathered to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) have suspended operations in Iraq after the targeted assassination of a top Iranian general by the US.

Germany’s Bundeswehr will put on pause all military missions in Iraq, it announced late on Friday night. That includes both operations aimed against IS and training of Kurdish troops. There are around 130 German soldiers deployed in Iraq at the moment, including 27 stationed at the Taji military base 30km (18 miles) north of Baghdad.

The same security lockdown is true for the 70 soldiers from Sweden, who act as advisers to the Iraqi military. “We have to see what happens. We cannot go into details for safety reasons, but we have paused and taken it hour by hour,” explained Swedish military spokesperson Kristina Swaan.

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Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen called the situation serious for the 140 soldiers the country has in Iraq, but wouldn’t comment on whether it was necessary to bring them home as a precaution.

NATO, which has many of the same members as the anti-IS coalition, has suspended its training operations in Iraq too, spokesman for the alliance Dylan White said. NATO has hundreds of personnel under its aegis in the country.

The anti-IS coalition members initiated a curfew for its troops following the killing of Qassem Soleimani, the commander of Iran’s Quds Force, by a US airstrike on Friday morning. Tehran pledged retaliation for what it sees as an act of international terrorism.

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The killing also led to mass protests in Iran and several other Middle Eastern countries, where the assassinated general was perceived as a hero by many. Soleimani played a crucial role in organizing and supporting Shiite militias to fight against IS in Iraq and Syria. The US claimed the assassination was an act of pre-emptive self-defense.

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