NATO suspends training in Iraq following Qasim Soleimani killing: spokesperson
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A spokesperson for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) said on Saturday that training missions in Iraq had been suspended after the killing of Iranian commander Qasim Soleimani.
Late on Thursday, a US drone strike on a convoy near the Baghdad airport killed Soleimani, long-time head of the Quds Force, the paramilitary arm of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard.
The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the head of the Iranian-backed Shia militia, Kata’ib Hizbollah, which was responsible for killing a US contractor last Friday in a rocket attack on an Iraqi military base near Kirkuk.
“NATO’s mission [in Iraq] is continuing, but training activities are currently suspended,” spokesperson Dylan White said in a statement on Saturday.
Canada has been leading the NATO training mission in Iraq since July 2018, which reflects the efforts of United States President Donald Trump to have American allies bear more of the burden of common defense.
The mission builds on past NATO efforts to train Iraqi forces as they work to prevent the re-emergence of the Islamic State and other terror groups.
Ottawa recently extended its general military assignment in Iraq to March 2021 at the request of the Iraqi government.
Canada has 850 military personnel in Iraq, including 250 as part of the NATO mission.