A North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) official reportedly said that there were no casualties among the troops on its training mission in Iraq when a total of 15 missiles hit the US-Iraqi airbase on January 8. Amid the heightened tensions between the two countries, NATO also suspended training of Iraqi forces to ensure the safety of several hundred mission members. According to international media reports, the alliance also announced that it was moving some of its trainers out of Iraq because of the increased danger following Soleimani's killing.
While talking to an international media outlet, the NATO official said that they are taking all precautions which are necessary to protect their troop. The measure included the temporary repositioning of some personnel to different locations both inside and outside of Iraq. NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg further condemned the Iranian missile attacks on US and coalition forces in Iraq. He also called on Iran to refrain from further violence.
I condemn the Iranian missile attacks on US & @coalition forces in Iraq. #NATO calls on Iran to refrain from further violence. Allies continue to consult & remain committed to our training mission in Iraq. pic.twitter.com/6PdXMZxSNB— Jens Stoltenberg (@jensstoltenberg) January 8, 2020
The attack came just a day after Stoltenberg warned Iran against further violence and provocations saying a new conflict would be in no-one’s interest. On January 6, he chaired a meeting of the North Atlantic Council, amid heightened tensions in the aftermath of top Iranian military commander’s death. While Iraq recently asked foreign military forces to leave its soil amid soaring tensions, NATO chief said that they are helping to train forces and prevent the return of ISIS, adding they have suspended training on the ground for time being.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Ain al-Asad airbase in Iraq that houses the US and coalition forces was hit by multiple rockets. This incident was first reported by Iranian state TV, who described it as Tehran’s revenge operation over the killing of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Gen. Qassem Soleimani. This also follows the development where the pro-Tehran factions in Iraq vowed to join forces and respond to the US for the killing of Iranian General.