NATO suspended its training mission in Iraq, the alliance said Saturday after a U.S. drone strike killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad.
NATO has been advising the Iraqi defense forces on how to keep ISIS from regaining strength. However, those “training activities are temporarily suspended,” NATO spokesman Dylan White said in an emailed statement.
“The safety of our personnel in Iraq is paramount. We continue to take all precautions necessary,” White said, though the statement did not state explicitly why the training had been paused.
Iran has vowed to avenge the assassination of Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani, whose killing on Thursday has thrown the region into disarray.
White said NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg spoke by phone to U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper “following recent developments.”
NATO’s latest mission in Iraq dates to late 2018, with several hundred trainers working with Iraqi defense forces and military institutions offering technical advice to block the return of ISIS. The mission is run by Major General Jennie Carignan of Canada, which is home to most of the NATO forces involved.