The Czech military temporarily withdrew soldiers from Iraq, citing a restriction of operational tasks over security threats and the coronavirus epidemic, along with a planned restructuring of the mission.

The group of 30 soldiers returned to the Czech Republic on Tuesday evening, informed General Staff of Czech Armed Forces spokeswoman Magdalena Dvořáková.

In Iraq, the Czech army managed the training unit of chemical defense troops, and several Czechs were also members of the international staff. The Czech military police had its training team in the country as well.

Czech security forces were deployed in two NATO missions, OIR (Operation Inherent Resolve) and NMI (NATO Mission Iraq).

“We are temporarily withdrawing our troops due to a significant reduction of operational tasks caused by the security threats, the current coronavirus epidemic, and the planned restructuring of both missions,” said Josef Kopecký, commander of the Czech land forces.

The withdrawal of the troops will last until the commanders of the OIR and NMI missions make further decisions.

Czech training units have operated in Iraq since 2017. Czech military chemists trained their Iraqi colleagues in the protection against weapons of mass destruction (CBRN). The task was to prepare Iraqi instructors who would subsequently take over the training of their soldiers. They focused, among other things, on the detection and monitoring of poisonous substances.

The military police then trained Iraqi police officers in riot control.

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