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Canadian Armed Forces are leaving Iraq for neighbouring Kuwait, says Chief of Defence Staff General Jonathan Vance in a letter released late Tuesday morning and addressed to military families.
“The news coming out of the Middle East is alarming for many of you, as such I thought it best to communicate with you directly,” writes Vance in a letter posted to Twitter at 11:33am (EST).
“We have approximately 800 members in the region, about 500 in Iraq,” the letter to continues. “Some of our people will be moved temporarily from Iraq to Kuwait. Simply put, we are doing this to ensure their safety and security.”
The letter also indicated that of the 800 soldiers “deployed on Operation IMPACT, and some with NMI”–NATO missions for which Canada’s involvement remains on “operational pause”–others will remain in the field elsewhere.
Gen. Vance: “Our mission in the Middle East carries-on with multiple other operations in the region.”
The killing of Iran’s top general and leader of its Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force by U.S. drone in Baghdad on Thursday evening (January 2, 2020 EST) heightened tensions in a region still roiling from putting Islamic State on the run.
While Iran has vowed retaliation for the targeting killing of Qassem Soleimani, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards’ Quds Force commander and the country’s top military and paramilitary planner.
In April of last year, U.S. President Donald Trump designated the entire Revolutionary Guards army as a terrorist group and maintains Soleimani was a legitimate military target.
Since the end of 2012, Public Safety Canada has designated Quds Force a “listed terrorist entity”.
In an interview with CTV’s Evan Solomon on Monday, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan took the NATO position describing the strike as “an act of deterrence”.