Niinistö demands “full account” from Iran after attack on base where Finnish troops are stationed

The president called for the international community to break the cycle of violence in the Middle East.

File picture of President Niinistö / Credit: Roni Rekomaa, TPK

Finnish President Sauli Niinistö says the “international community must make every effort to break the cycle of violence” as Iranian missiles targeted a base in northern Iraq where Finnish troops are stationed.

In a Wednesday morning statement, Niinistö condemned the overnight ballistic missile strike by Iran on two bases in Iraq: al-Asad in the desert west of Baghdad which is a major hub for American forces; and a base in Erbil where Finnish military personnel are based.

President Niinistö writes “at present, it is not known that the attacks claimed any victims. Finnish personnel in crisis management operations are safe and well. On the impact of the situation on operations, Finland is in constant contact with other participating countries.”

“There are Finnish troops serving at the targeted base in Erbil. Finland will require the Iranian authorities to provide a full account of their actions” the president says.

What happened overnight? 

Iran launched more than a dozen ballistic missiles around 00:30 Helsinki time on Wednesday morning, in retaliation for a US missile strike last week which killed Iran’s most senior General Qasem Soleimani while he was visiting Baghdad.

According to US President Donald Trump, writing on Twitter, “All is well!” after the missile strike, and he added that the “assessment of casualties and damages taking place now. So far, so good!”

There are 78 Finnish troops – two thirds of them reservists – currently deployed to the Kurdish-administered region of northern Iraq, part of a NATO-lead military training programme.

Training operations were suspended in the aftermath of Soleimani’s killing, as authorities monitored how the situation might unfold, with Iran vowing to take revenge for his death.

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