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Czech police instructors to leave Iraq, army personnel stay

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Five Czech police instructors will leave Iraq temporarily while training there is suspended, but military personnel will stay, Czech officials said on Thursday, amid heightened tensions between arch foes Iran and the United States.

Police President Jan Svejdar said on Twitter the five police would leave Baghdad for the Czech Republic and return to Iraq at an unspecified future date when training is resumed.

Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek said earlier that the NATO country’s military personnel in Iraq, which totals around 40 soldiers, would remain in place, news agency CTK reported.

The NATO Iraq mission, made up of several hundred trainers, advisers and support staff from countries of the 29-member alliance and as well as from non-NATO partner countries, includes military and civilian personnel.

Iran fired missiles on Wednesday at sites in Iraq where U.S. troops were based in retaliation for the killing in a U.S. drone attack of powerful Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3. Tehran’s foreign minister said this “concluded” Iran’s response to his death.

Concern that the Middle East was primed for a wider war eased after U.S. President Donald Trump gave an address on Wednesday that refrained from ordering more military action.

Reporting by Jan Lopatka, Editing by William Maclean