Germany Mulls Presence in Iraq as Region Braces for More Conflict

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Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer,

International forces in the Middle East are on edge following blow-for-blow strikes carried out by the U.S. and Iran, and Germany is one of the countries re-evaluating its presence in Iraq as a result.

Iran conducted missile strikes early Wednesday in retaliation for Washington’s targeted killing of top Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, in a drone strike few days ago at Baghdad’s airport ordered by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Germany’s Defence Ministry said on Wednesday that no German soldiers deployed in Northern Iraq were harmed when Iran launched the retaliatory strikes, which targeted U.S. forces stationed at Ain al-Assad air base in the West and Erbil in the North.

However, Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said that Germany refused to expose its troops to undue risk and considering a partial withdrawal of its forces there.

“We reached a deal with the international coalition that non-essential forces will not face any unnecessary risk,“Kramp-Karrenbauer said.
He added that German soldiers had already been pulled out of the Taji military complex and taken to Jordan based on that, and plans were being drafted for a possible partial withdrawal of soldiers in Erbil.

“The decision centres on forces that are currently unable to take part in training missions,“the minister said.

German soldiers stationed in Northern Iraq were given advanced warning of Iran’s missile strikes on Wednesday.

According to General Staff Colonel, Joerg Wellbrink, we immediately alarmed all the soldiers in the camp with sirens to be wary of Iran’s missile strikes.

“The Personnel then quickly sought out protective structure for cover.

“We subsequently notified the Bundeswehr’s operation leadership command about the circumstances and have been in constant contact since,“Wellbrink said. (dpa/NAN)