Three French and one Iraqi, members of the French NGO SOS Chrétiens d’Orient, who had been kidnapped in Baghdad on January 20, 2020, have been released, the Elysee announced on Thursday March 26, as France has just withdrawn its troops from Iraq. “France has made every effort to achieve this outcome. The President of the Republic expresses his gratitude to the Iraqi authorities for their cooperation “, said a brief statement from the French presidency, without further details.
SOS Christians in the East reported last week that there was no news of its four missing members, no message or claims. The four men, the French Antoine Brochon, Julien Dittmar, Alexandre Goodarzy and the Iraqi Tariq Mattoka, had “Disappeared around the French embassy”, in the city center, according to the NGO.
Baghdad, when kidnapped, has been plagued by protests for several months, some against the government and influence of Iran, and others against the presence of American troops in Iraq after the death of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, killed in Badgad in early January in an American drone attack.
Temporary reduction of the coalition’s wing
The humanitarian association presents itself as helping Christians in the East, victims of persecution in the region, in particular under the influence of the self-proclaimed Caliphate of the Islamic State Organization (IS). Its officials, anchored to the right, have sometimes been accused of complacency with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
France announced on Wednesday that it will withdraw its troops from Iraq on Thursday as part of the training for Iraqi security forces as part of the Washington-led international anti-jihadist coalition.
The repatriation of some 200 French soldiers from Operation Chammal is motivated ” especially “ by the coronavirus pandemic, which has hampered one of its external operations, said the French general staff. The US military, which represents the vast majority of foreign forces deployed to Iraq, announced last weekend a temporary reduction in the coalition’s airfoil.