Germany and the Netherlands have halted all training missions in Iraq as tensions continue to rise between the US and Iran, which supports proxy militias there.
The countries announced the move Wednesday just hours after the US ordered all non-essential, non-emergency government staff to leave Iraq immediately.
Dutch officials said they would be suspending its training of Iraqi soldiers “until further orders” while the US and Iran try to work things out.
Germany — which currently has about 160 troops in Iraq — said it, too, would be shutting down its training missions indefinitely amid the heightened tensions.
Both countries have stressed, however, that there is currently “no concrete threat” that has caused them to stop training, only a worry of a military escalation. France and the Czech Republic, which are also training troops in Iraq, said they will continue the military exercises.
Iranian-backed proxy forces have been operating in Iraq and other Middle Eastern nations for years, according to US officials.
The Trump administration has accused Iran of trying to railroad US interests in the region — even going so far as to call for threats of violence in places like Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Syria. Reports emerged this week, saying the president was planning to send more than 100,000 troops to the Middle East following repeated attacks on US-backed oil tankers and oil facilities in the Persian Gulf, but Trump has denied it.
Iran’s top defense official said Wednesday that the Islamic Republic would “defeat” the US and its ally Israel if the countries were to attack them.
“Obviously, we are watching the increasing tensions in the region with big concern,” said Ulrike Demmer, spokeswoman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, “and welcome any measure that is aimed at a peaceful solution.”
With Post wires