Dutch mission in Iraq suspended over threat

Dutch soldiers training local security forces in Iraq
Dutch soldiers training local security forces in IraqPhoto: Defensie

The Dutch military training mission in Iraq was suspended due to an increased threat in the region. The nature of the threat is unknown. The commander of the international coalition that coordinates training in the region ordered the mission to stop, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defense said to NU.nl.

This temporary halt applies to all international allies who provide training in the area. Some 50 to 60 Dutch soldiers were ordered to cease their work "until further notice" due to an increased threat. 

The Netherlands forms part of the international coalition fighting terrorist organization Islamic State in Iraq. Dutch soldiers advise and train Kurdish-Iraqi forces on shooting skills and military first aid, among other things. The Netherlands is also taking part in a NATO mission focussed on strengthening the Iraqi security sector. Until the end of last year, Dutch F16 fighter jets were also active above Iraq. 

The Ministry of Defense would not say anything about the nature of the threat that prompted the mission halt, according to NU.nl. The Ministry spokesperson also would not say whether this has anything to do with increased tensions between the United States and Iran, Iraq's neighbor. The US is afraid that Iran will attack US citizens, organizations, soldiers and allies in the region. On Wednesday, the US Department of Foreign Affairs recalled its embassy staff in Iraq who are there for "non-emergency" business.