4 Jan 2020

US and allies suspend training of Iraqi forces - report

8:08 pm on 4 January 2020

The United States and its allies have suspended training of Iraqi forces due to the increased threat they face after a US air strike in Baghdad on Friday killed a top Iranian general, the German military said in a letter seen by Reuters.

Iraqi Army soldiers march during the graduation ceremony of the Iraqi Army's Non- Commissioned Officers' Academy Junior Leaders Course at Taji Military Complex, Iraq.

Iraqi soldiers marching during a graduation ceremony at the Taji Military Complex in February 2016. Photo: SUPPLIED / NZDF

It came after Iraqi reports that six people were killed in an air strike targeting Iraqi forces near Taji stadium in Baghdad, near where up to 45 New Zealand soldiers are stationed.

However, the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State later said on Twitter that it did not conduct any air strikes near Camp Taji north of Baghdad and the Iraqi military then issued a statement saying that no air strike took place in Taji on Saturday.

Earlier, Iraq's Popular Mobilisation Forces umbrella grouping of paramilitary groups said air strikes near camp Taji had killed six people and critically wounded three.

However, it later issued a statement saying its medical convoy in Taji was not targeted by a US air strike.

A spokesperson for New Zealand's Defence Force would not comment on the reports, saying: "We will not be discussing operational detail at this time".

In the letter to German lawmakers, a senior German officer said US Lieutenant General Pat White had decided to further increase the level of protection for the forces deployed in Iraq under Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), which he commands.

"Thus, the training for the Iraqi security and armed forces throughout Iraq is temporarily suspended," German Lieutenant General Erich Pfeffer wrote to members of the Bundestag defence and foreign relations committees in the letter, dated 3 January.

"The directive is binding for all partner nations involved in OIR at the training sites in Iraq," he added.

Germany has around 120 troops deployed in Iraq under the US-led Operation Inherent Resolve.

Reuters / RNZ

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