NATO Iraq mission not disrupted by Iran tension: commander
The head of the NATO mission in Iraq insisted Thursday (June 6th) that the recent increase in tension between the US and Iran has not hampered the alliance's work in the country, AFP reported.
Washington ordered the evacuation of non-emergency staff from its Baghdad embassy last month due to an alleged growing threat from Iranian-linked Iraqi militias, while Germany and the Netherlands suspended their training missions.
But Canadian General Dany Fortin, who leads NATO's 500-strong training and advisory mission in Iraq, said his forces had "sufficiently mitigated" the threat and were able to continue working.
"There is no doubt there is still risk and as reported in the media in the last few weeks there was a critical threat, cause for concern for the US and for all of us," Fortin told reporters at NATO headquarters in Brussels.
"We have force protection measures in place to ensure that we are vigilant, unpredictable, we change things, but we can continue our activities. So it has not affected our advising, our training activities whatsoever."
The NATO mission aims to train local Iraqi forces and improve military education centres to try to avoid a repeat of 2014, when the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) seized large areas of Iraq and Syria.
Fortin said the aim was to create a "self-sustainable" system of forces and training in Iraq, adding that he hoped this could be achieved in three to four years.