January 7, 2020 / 5:11 PM / 22 days ago

Canada says some troops in Iraq to be moved temporarily to Kuwait for safety

FILE PHOTO: Canada's Chief of the Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance takes part in a news conference in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, December 12, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Some of Canada’s 500 military personnel based in Iraq will be temporarily moved to Kuwait for safety reasons, the country’s top military official said on Tuesday, due to fears of possible retaliation there after a U.S. drone strike on Iran’s top military commander.

General Jonathan Vance, chief of the defense staff, said in a letter to military families that “the news coming out of the Middle East is alarming for many of you.”

“Some of our people will be moved temporarily from Iraq to Kuwait,” he added. Simply put, we are doing this to ensure their safety and security.”

Some of the Canadian troops are taking part in a NATO mission while others are running Operation Impact, a Canadian initiative to train soldiers in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and Kuwait. In all some 800 Canadian troops are in the Middle East.

Earlier in the day, NATO said it was moving some of its trainers out of Iraq, without giving details.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Monday and the two men “emphasized the importance of de-escalating tensions and the need to support security and stability in Iraq,” Trudeau’s office said in a statement.

Reporting by Steve Scherer and David Ljunggren; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis

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