By The Canadian Press
OTTAWA — The head of the NATO military alliance is suggesting the Canadian-led training mission in Iraq is not about to be permanently shut down.
The comments by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg follow a suspension of the mission’s activities over the weekend due to security concerns following the killing of an Iranian military commander in Iraq by the U.S.
Speaking after a meeting of ambassadors from all 29 NATO countries, including Canada, Stoltenberg says the training mission is essential for continuing to defend against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.
Sidestepping questions about calls from Iraq for U.S. and other foreign troops to leave the country, Stoltenberg says NATO will continue to speak with Iraqi authorities and stands ready to restart training efforts once the security situation improves.
Canada has led the NATO training mission in Iraq since it was established in 2018 to teach the Iraqi military and security forces to defend their country against ISIL and other threats.
The training mission includes about 250 Canadian soldiers while Canada also has dozens of special forces and other military personnel in Iraq, whose activities have similarly been suspended over fears of retaliation over the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.