Slovenia Will Evacuate Soldiers Based in Iraq

Slovenia’s defense ministry says its six soldiers stationed in northern Iraq with a German-led training mission will be evacuated after their base came under Iran’s missile attack in retaliation for the U.S. airstrike that killed Iran’s top general Qassem Soleimani.

The Slovenian ministry said Wednesday the soldiers were unhurt in the attack near Irbil as they were in the base’s shelter during the strike.

The ministry said the evacuation will be conducted “in cooperation with the German partners.” It did not say where the soldiers will go.

The Cyprus government also approved a U.S. request to temporarily deploy a “rapid reaction” team to help evacuate personnel from U.S. diplomatic missions in nearby countries if needed.

Cyprus government spokesman Kyriakos Koushios said Wednesday the team also will be tasked with evacuating U.S. civilians from the region in the event of an emergency.

Koushios said the east Mediterranean island nation granted permission as part of its long-standing policy to offer assistance to missions of a humanitarian nature following requests from non-European Union member countries.

He said Cyprus has excellent relations with eastern Mediterranean and Middle Eastern nations.

Iraq Condemned Iranian Missile Strikes

Iraq’s presidency has condemned Iranian missile strikes on two Iraqi military bases hosting U.S. troops, reiterating its rejection of breaches of Iraq’s sovereignty.

NTD Photo

Barham Saleh’s office also said in a statement that the fate of U.S. troops in Iraq is an internal matter based on legal agreements to combat the ISIS terrorist group.

The statement adds that Iraq “has previously declared its refusal to be a starting point for aggression against any country, and also refuses to be a source of threat to any of its neighbors.”

The Iraqi prime minister has publicly said U.S. troops must leave after a drone strike killed Iran’s top military commander in Baghdad, and parliament has passed a non-binding resolution pushing for withdrawal.

‘Reckless and Dangerous’

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has condemned what he called Iran’s “reckless and dangerous” missile attacks on bases in Iraq used by U.S. troops, and he called for “urgent deescalation” by Tehran and Washington.

Johnson also said Soleimani “had the blood of British troops on his hands.”

Britain’s main opposition Labour Party has suggested the United States may have broken international law by killing Soleimani.

Johnson told British lawmakers on Wednesday that “the strict issue of legality is not for the UK to determine since it was not our operation. But I think most reasonable people would accept that the United States has the right to protect its bases and its personnel.”

The Trump administration alleges that Soleimani had been plotting new attacks just before he was killed.