NATO says it has suspended a training mission for soldiers in the Iraqi army in the wake of the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. (Photo Credit: Twitter)
NATO says it has suspended a training mission for soldiers in the Iraqi army in the wake of the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. The military alliance said in a statement Saturday that even if the Canadian-led mission is to continue in the future, security concerns for its personnel were “paramount”. “We continue to take all precautions necessary,” NATO spokesman Dylan White said in a statement. “NATO’s mission is continuing, but training activities are temporarily suspended.”
The Iraqi mission consists of several hundred staff from allied nations and non-NATO countries.
General Qasem Soleimani, the head of Iran's elite Quds force and mastermind of its regional security strategy, was killed in an airstrike early Friday near the Iraqi capital's international airport. Soleimani and Mohandis were killed along with eight others in a precision drone strike early Friday as they drove away from Baghdad international airport in two vehicles.
On Friday, Iran unfurled a 'red flag of revenge' on an important mosque in after vowing to avenge the killing of its top general in airstrike by US drones. The red flag was hoisted above the Jamkaran Mosque which is on the outskirts of the holy city of Qom, about 100 miles south of Tehran. In Shiite tradition, red flags symbolise both blood spilled unjustly and serve as a call to avenge a person who is slain. The text on the flag says: "Those who want to avenge the blood of Hussein".
The flag can be seen as a clear warning that Iran is getting ready to strike back at America.
Earlier, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell stressed the "need for de-escalation" after the US assassination of a top Iranian in Baghdad. After meeting Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Brussels, Borrell tweeted: "Spoke w Iranian FM @JZarif about recent developments. Underlined need for de-escalation of tensions, to exercise restraint & avoid further escalation".