(Bloomberg) -- Germany has temporarily moved some troops from Iraq due to safety concerns following the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general.
Of Germany’s 120 soldiers in Iraq as part of a training mission, 32 have transferred to Jordan and three to Kuwait, Defense Ministry Spokesman Joerg Schroeder said Tuesday by phone. The troops could return anytime to continue the mission if the Iraqi government agrees, although it has been suspended for the time being, Schroeder said.
The U.S.-led coalition to defeat Islamic State said Sunday it was suspending operations in Iraq to temporarily focus efforts on protecting its forces. Iraq’s prime minister has recommended the “urgent” withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.
“Of course we must be particularly attentive that our soldiers, and those of other nations, are not exposed to unnecessary risks,“ Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said in the afternoon at an event of the CSU party in Bavaria.
All diplomatic channels must be used to de-escalate the situation, and allies are in agreement that the anti-ISIS mission must continue, the minister said.
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran are high after last week’s killing of General Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad airport, and the Pentagon has sent additional forces to the Middle East.
A senior lawmaker in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party said earlier on Tuesday it would be dangerous for international troops to leave Iraq, which would risk becoming a “vassal state” of Iran.
“Of course, if the Iraqi government decides that all foreign troops should withdraw, it would affect the training mission and have grave consequences for the fight against IS,” CDU lawmaker Roderich Kiesewetter said in an interview with Deutschlandfunk radio.
“We would be well advised to make it clear to the Iraqi government what it would mean if 67 states withdrew from the whole region,” he added.
(Updates with defense minister comment in fourth paragraph)
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