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German Defense Chief Visits Iraq Amid Uncertain Future For Foreign Troops


German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (file photo)

Germany’s defense chief has made a surprise visit to Baghdad to meet with Iraqi military leaders amid uncertainty over the status of foreign troops in the country.

Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer’s arrival late on January 15 comes as Berlin looks to maintain the Bundeswehr training mission in Iraq.

Troops from Germany and some others that are part of the U.S.-led military coalition that has been aiding Baghdad in the fight against Islamic State (IS) and other terror groups have pulled out of Iraq after the United States killed Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani in an air strike in Baghdad in early January.

That attack led Iran to fire missiles at military bases hosting U.S. forces in Iraq.

Germany has still has some 90 soldiers in Irbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region where the Bundeswehr soldiers help train local Kurdish forces.

The Kurdish regional government has said it wants German troops to remain in the area and continue their training mission.

Iraqi lawmakers have voted for a resolution ordering the government to end the presence of foreign troops linked to the anti-IS mission.

However, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has said the Iraqi government has signaled to Berlin that it wants Germany to maintain its military operations in Iraq.

Meanwhile, Germany's parliament on January 15 voiced support for the presence in Iraq, with a large majority of lawmakers voting against a bill drafted by the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) opposition party that was seeking to withdraw the troops.

Based on reporting by dpa, AP, and TASS
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