Canada’s defence minister says a Canadian-led NATO training mission in Iraq has been temporarily suspended in the wake of the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani.
Harjit Sajjan confirmed a statement released by NATO earlier in the day, which said the security of personnel must be a top priority.
The training mission, currently led by Maj. Gen. Jennie Carignan, has been under Canadian command since it was launched in October 2018 at the request of the Iraqi government.
All training activities in Iraq are suspended temporarily as we continue to monitor the security environment
Canada’s Department of National Defence says the decision to suspend operations applies to both the 250 military members working with the NATO training mission as well as the dozens of special forces troops who have been working in the northern part of the country with Iraqi security forces.
Soleimani was the head of Iran’s elite Quds Force and the mastermind of its regional security strategy.
He was killed early Friday near the Baghdad international airport along with senior Iraqi militants in an airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump.
The attack has caused regional tensions to soar and tested the U.S. alliance with Iraq.
“The NATO mission and Operation IMPACT’s mandate remain the same, but all training activities in Iraq are suspended temporarily as we continue to monitor the security environment,” Sajjan said in a statement. “We are taking all necessary precautions for the safety and security of our civilian and military personnel.”
The Iraqi mission consists of several hundred staff from allied nations and non-NATO countries and has a stated mandate of preventing the reemergence of Islamic extremist groups.
With files from The Associated Press