Defence Minister Ron Mark: “NZDF focused on protecting troops in Iraq from retaliation”

As tensions in the Middle East continue to grow after the assassination of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, the New Zealand Defence Force is focusing on the protection of Kiwi troops deployed in Iraq.

Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says that "recent attacks on coalition bases and embassies constitute unacceptable risks to their safety".

He says their security situation is being kept under close review, including implications for New Zealand personnel.

Minister of Defence Ron Mark has confirmed that the NZDF currently has a total of 50 personnel deployed in Iraq.

"There are 45 personnel in Camp Taji and five personnel in Baghdad, so the Government, along with its coalition partners, is closely monitoring the situation," he said in a statement.

"Currently, training activities with the Iraqi forces at Taji are on hold, as the focus turns to the force protection of our members."

The Minister reassured NZDF families and the public that "the NZDF remains vigilant to any changes in the security environment anywhere our troops are deployed".

"Stringent force protection remains in place to ensure all deployed NZDF personnel remain as safe as possible," he said.

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