5th January, 2020
Due to tensions generated by the U.S.’s assassination of Iranian top general, Qassem Soleimani, Canada on Saturday updated a travel advisory for its citizens travelling to the Middle East.
The Canadian government’s travel advisory service tweeted that it has “updated security advice for multiple destinations in the region due to an increased threat of attacks.”
Tensions have escalated in the Gulf since the U.S. drone attack, ordered by President Donald Trump, killed Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.
Canada said there is an extreme risk to personal safety in the Middle East countries and people already there should consider leaving and that citizens traveling to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Kuwait should exercise high degree of caution.
Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan is reported to have said early Saturday that Canada temporarily suspended a Canada-commanding NATO training mission in Iraq.
“We are taking all necessary precautions for the safety and security of our civilian and military personnel,” Sajjan said in a statement.
The NATO mission run by Canadian General Jennie Carignan is reportedly a “non-combat, advisory and training” mission.
Canadian Foreign Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne on Friday in a statement called on all sides to exercise restraint and pursue de-escalation after the U.S. airstrike, adding that “The safety and well-being of Canadians in Iraq and the region, including our troops and diplomats, is our paramount concern. We call on all sides to exercise restraint and pursue de-escalation”.
The United States has also asked its citizens in Iraq to leave immediately, while Iran vowed “harsh retaliation” against the United States killing of Soleimani, described by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a heinous crime.