(B2) All training activities in Iraq by both the coalition and the NATO mission are now suspended. Coronavirus epidemic obliges
A precautionary measure
The cause is not political this time, even if the British had a death among theirs a few days ago (read: Renewed tensions in Iraq between Americans and Shiite militias supported by Iran). It's a " precautionary measure due to the global pandemic” explains the British operations headquarters, which is one of the first to have communicated on the subject. London has also decided to react quickly.
More than half of the contingent returns to the country
Some of the personnel deployed in Iraq will be redeployed to UK ". These troops will remain ready for a range of potential deployments around the world, while having the opportunity to support their loved ones facing the challenges of the virus “says the British HQ. According to our colleagues across the Channel, in particular Deborah Haynes, from Skynews, more than half of the 400 British soldiers would thus return to the country.
A training mission slowed down for several months
Tensions in early January in Iraq and with Iran led to a suspension of activities that never really resumed (read: NATO and the Coalition against Daesh suspend their activities in Iraq. Too dangerous). This, despite the more optimistic comments. " Over the past few months, the pace of training has dropped significantly. Which means that I am able to bring back the training units recognizes the Minister of Defense, Ben Wallace.
A minimal footprint retained
The UK will retain key military personnel across the country to ensure the Iraqi government, Global Coalition and UK national interests are properly supported ” assures the Minister of Defense (1). NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who just held a press conference this Thursday (March 19), virtually, at no time mentioned this suspension of activities. Little stalker...
(updated) In turn, the Ministry of Defense has ordered the temporary withdrawal of part of its 600 soldiers deployed in Iraq: about 200 soldiers are returning to the country, according to the Razon. A decision taken due to the paralysis of training activities, it is announced in Madrid.
(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde, with AP for NATO)
- This urgent decision could be linked to a possible (or feared) spread of the virus among the troops. Nobody says a word. But the Pentagon has already counted in its ranks (all forces combined) 49 soldiers and 7 contractors who tested positive, according to the balance sheet released by the US Department of Defense on Wednesday (March 18).
Updated March 20 (Spain)