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NATO will resume its training activities for forces in Iraq

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) —

The commander of NATO in Europe announced Friday that the alliance will resume “in the coming days or weeks” its activities to train forces in Iraq, which were suspended in early January after the American strike that killed the Iranian general Qassem Soleimani.

The American general, Todd Walters, said that the 500-strong Canadian-led mission tasked with training Iraqi forces had secured Baghdad’s approval to resume its activities.

“After the (positive) response from Iraq in the last 36 hours, we will resume the NATO mission in Iraq,” he told reporters on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.

Asked about the date of the resumption of activities, he said, “Soon. It is a matter of days or weeks.”

The mission was suspended on January 4 and part of the elements were withdrawn from Iraq due to fear of responses to Soleimani assassination in Baghdad. The Iraqi parliament then voted on a resolution demanding the departure of US and foreign forces.

But Baghdad has since allowed the resumption of the NATO mission, which it considered more acceptable than some of the training activities of the international coalition led by Washington.

“We want to resume (activities) as soon as possible, but protecting the forces is essential,” Todd Walters said.

On Thursday, the Allies agreed to strengthen the Alliance’s role in Iraq, where Americans want to reduce their presence after it has become unwelcome.

“It is a matter of weeks” to determine the size of the mission and its future activities, said US Defense Secretary Mark Esper after a meeting of the international coalition against ISIS in Munich. This is still under discussion among the allies.

Spain, which participates with 500 soldiers in the international coalition in Iraq, has announced that it will put part of its forces at the disposal of NATO.

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