Czech soldiers stay at bases in Iraq, Slovaks leaving |

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Czech soldiers stay at bases in Iraq, Slovaks leaving

Czech soldiers stay at bases in Iraq, Slovaks leaving

Czech soldiers stay at their bases in Iraq, where maximum security measures were taken, Defence Ministry communication section head Jan Pejsek told CTK today, while Slovakia has temporarily transferred its soldiers from Iraq elsewhere, its government announced today.

The Czech Republic is coordinating its steps with its allies in NATO, Pejsek added.

Germany announced today that it would withdraw part of its soldiers from Iraq to Jordan and Kuwait in reaction to the escalating situation after a U.S. attack killed Iranian Major-General Qassem Soleimani last Friday. Slovakia reacted accordingly.

Seven Slovak soldiers, operating in the NATO training mission in Iraq, were temporarily transferred from the region, the cabinet said today.

The further deployment of Slovak troops in Iraq caused a dispute between PM Peter Pellegrini (Smer-Social Democracy) and the chairman of the parliament and the junior government Slovak National Party (SNS), Andrej Danko, who demanded an immediate withdrawal of Slovak troops from Iraq and their return home. However, Pellegrini said Bratislava would take steps after consulting its allies.

"Nothing has changed in our case. Czech soldiers stay at the site of the operation. They are at the bases where respective measures were taken to provide maximum security. Everything is done in coordination with other allies in NATO," Pejsek said.

The situation in the region is tense after the U.S. military killed Soleimani and some more persons, including an influential commander of the Iraqi militias, in Baghdad last Friday. The attack stirred up a sharp response in Tehran and Baghdad. Other countries disapprove of it, too.

Former Czech foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg (TOP 09) sharply criticised the killing of Soleimani. "I openly state that the acts by President (Donald) Trump are criminal. No one is allowed to violate international law, not even the president of the United States," Schwarzenberg wrote on Facebook, expressing fears of some world politicians getting infected with terrorism.

Current Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said the killing of Soleimani had further complicated the complex situation in the Middle East and threatened the fight against international terrorism. He also said he expected an Iranian reaction to the U.S. attack.

Culture Minister and former foreign minister Lubomir Zaoralek (CSSD) openly criticised the U.S. attack, while some centre-right opposition politicians, such as MEP Jan Zahradil (Civic Democrats, ODS), supported it last week.

Tehran warned that the killing of Soleimani actually meant a declaration of war. Trump threatened with retaliation repeatedly if Iran attacked U.S. targets. The Iraqi parliament called on the government on Sunday to take steps for the departure of all foreign soldiers from the country.

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