France has no plans to cut troop numbers in Iraq for now: Government source

Mourners attend the funeral procession of the Iranian Major-General Qasem Soleimani in Kerbala, Iraq, January 4, 2020./ Reuters Photo

France has no plans to pull its troops out of Iraq for the moment amid escalation tensions in the Middle East following the killing of Iran’s top commander last week.

A U.S. drone strike on a Baghdad airport killed Qasem Soleimani on Thursday, with President Donald Trump claiming the commander was plotting “imminent and sinister attacks” on Americans.

The incident has stirred tension in the region, with Iran threatening to revenge the death of Soleimani.

French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly however said on Twitter that given the events in Baghdad, France had already reinforced security for its 160 soldiers stationed in Iraq. She reiterated that Paris’ priority was the fight against Islamic State militants, who were re-merging in the area.

“In this context, France calls on Iran to not contribute to the escalation and return and fully comply with the (2015) nuclear accord,” she said.

France provides training and logistical support to Iraqi and Kurdish forces part of the anti-Islamic State coalition in the country.