Germany to cut troop numbers in Iraq; UK reduces staff at Baghdad, Tehran embassies
Germany is moving some of its military personnel from Iraq to neighboring countries over security concerns, the government told lawmakers, days after the killing of a top Iranian military commander in a U.S. drone strike.
About 30 of the 120 German soldiers in Iraq who mainly train Iraqi security forces will be redeployed to Jordan and Kuwait, the government told parliament in a letter on Jan. 6.
Iraq's parliament called on Sunday for the United States and other foreign troops to leave after Iran's most prominent general, Qassem Soleimani, was killed on Jan. 3 in a U.S. drone strike on his convoy at a Baghdad airport.
The drawdown of German troops was ordered by the U.S.-led joint command for fighting ISIL, the German government said. This would apply mainly to troops in Baghdad and Taji, a city just north of the Iraqi capital where close to 30 German troops are deployed.
Out of the 120 German soldiers, about 90 are stationed in the Kurdish area in the north of the country.
The German government said the forces could be moved back to Iraq if their training mission resumes.
Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told public broadcaster ZDF he was concerned about a possible resurgence of ISIL should foreign troops leave Iraq quickly. "Nobody really wants that," he said.
UK reduces staff at embassies
Britain has reduced staff at its embassies in Iran and Iraq to a minimum level following the U.S. killing of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani, Sky News reported on Jan. 6, citing diplomatic sources.
The withdrawal of the diplomats is a precautionary step rather than based on specific intelligence of a threat, according to the report.
Ambassadors Rob Macaire in Tehran and Stephen Hickey in Baghdad will remain in place, Sky News said.
The Foreign Office said its embassies in Baghdad and Tehran remained open but declined to comment on operational detail.
"The safety and security of our staff is of paramount importance and we keep our security posture under regular review," a spokesman said.