Canada moving troops out of Iraq as regional tensions rise

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OTTAWA—Canada is moving some troops out of Iraq to neighbouring Kuwait to ensure their safety amid rising regional tensions following Washington’s targeted killing of a prominent Iranian general.

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of the defence staff, announced the move Tuesday morning in a letter addressed to the families of those deployed overseas.

“First and foremost, let me assure you that all necessary force protection measures that can be taken have been taken. The safety and security of Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel is my priority, as it is the priority of my senior leadership,” Vance said in the note, which was posted on social media.

Canada has some 800 military personnel deployed in the region, including about 500 in Iraq assigned to two missions — Operation Impact, which advises and assists local forces, and a NATO training mission.

Activities on both missions have been paused as coalition nations assess the fallout from the Friday airstrike that killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Iran has vowed to retaliate, a threat that has prompted concerns about the safety of Western forces in the region.

“The situation in Iraq is complex and it is best to pause our work there in order to fully concentrate our attention and efforts toward the safety and security of our personnel while the situation develops,” Vance said.

As a result, he said some personnel will be temporarily moved to Kuwait, where Canada also has operations.

“Simply put, we are doing this to ensure their safety and security,” Vance said, adding that the move will disrupt schedule leaves and the rotation of people in and out of the region.

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