German, UK and other EU nations are leaving Iraq entirely following the killing of Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad last week.
The decisions follow a request by Iraqi lawmakers to withdraw foreign troops from the country and a delay in the training of Iraqi forces by the U.S .- led coalition.
Germany said its troops would be “temporarily diluted,” moving to neighbor Jordan and Kuwait 35 of its roughly 120 soldiers serving in the Iraqi bases in Baghdad and Taji.
“Once training resumes in Iraq, such forces can be transferred back at any time,” the German Defense Ministry said in a statement.
In a speech to lawmakers, German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer and Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stressed that negotiations will continue with the Iraqi government on a plan to train Iraqi troops, news agency DPA said.
Roderich Kiesewetter, a lawmaker who is on the foreign affairs committee of the parliament with Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, told Deutschlandfunk radio that this was “a very good step in allowing the Iraqi government time to assess the situation.”
“Our soldiers are remaining in the area and the mission is being continued for now, even though it is suspended for further consultation this week,” Kiesewetter said.
As the global crisis escalates, a growing number of European countries are moving troops out of Baghdad or Iraq.
The Guardian reported, citing UK sources, that as many as 50 British personnel had been moved out of the Green Zone in Baghdad to either nearby Taji or out of the country. According to the outlet, the number of British troops in Iraq is still about 400, with a majority based in Taji.
Croatia’s Ministry of Defense said the country had transferred 14 troops in Iraq to Kuwait, while Slovakia said it had relocated its seven service members from Iraq to an unspecified venue.
However, Slovenia has said its six soldiers in northern Iraq’s Erbil base will remain. The Ministry of Defense said it is monitoring the situation constantly and will make further decisions based on future developments.
In Iraq, both Finland and Sweden have troops that are part of the international coalition but have not yet said whether any military personnel would be removed from the country.
Finnish President Sauli Niinisto acknowledged the crisis, saying that U.S .- Iran relations are “in a critical state” and that the international community “must use all means” to create dialogue.
Canadian Gen. Jonathan Vance, in addition to European forces, announced the temporary relocation of some soldiers from Iraq to Kuwait by the military of his country. Canada has about 500 troops in Iraq to help combat ISIS and is currently leading the training mission for NATO in Iraq.