Iraq and Kurdistan Region suspend training by US-led coalition

<p style="text-align:left">The US-led anti-Islamic State coalition has suspended its training mission in Iraq after a decision by Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

This comes as COVID-19 infections worldwide reached over 106,000 and 3,600 total deaths late on Saturday, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
Vice President of the Kurdistan Region Sheikh Jaafar Sheikh Mustafa told reporters that all training for Peshmerga forces by the coalition had been suspended and that Peshmerga should be equipped with proper examination equipment to detect possible infections of the virus in all areas where they operate.
It is unclear when the training mission might resume.
&ldquo;The Coalition is prepared to resume training when and where our Iraqi partners request,&rdquo; Col. Myles Caggins, Spokesperson for the US-led Coalition, formally known as Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Resolve (CJTF-OIR), told Kurdistan 24.
&ldquo;We are implementing guidance from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to ensure our forces remain able to support our security partners in Iraq and Syria.&rdquo;
On Jan. 27, the Ministry of Peshmerga also suspended the recruitment process at all its training posts.
The last time the Coalition&rsquo;s training mission in Iraq was canceled in January, as a result of security threats caused by rising US-Iran tensions after the American assassination of top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3.
Iraqi health authorities reported eight new coronavirus cases on Saturday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the country to 54. Seven of the new infections occurred in the capital of Baghdad, and the other in Najaf. Nationwide, there have been four deaths overall.
The Kurdistan Region has ten confirmed cases of the virus, including one fatality.
On Friday, there was the first confirmed infection in Erbil, a 33-year old pregnant woman, who, unlike the preceding cases in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, had not recently traveled to Iran, the source of most regional spread of the coronavirus. On Saturday, there was a second case of a 49-year old woman who had returned from Iran.
KRG authorities decided on Wednesday to cancel all religious gatherings until further notice, a decision aimed at curbing the further spread of the disease.
As the number of cases continues to increase in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, the KRG has added multiple additions to its growing list of precautionary measures, including shutting down all women&rsquo;s salons, beauty centers, and bars that offer alcohol, starting on Sunday.
Reporter's code: 50101

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