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The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has temporarily relocated all non-essential personnel from Iraq and Afghanistan as a result of the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

ADF, in close coordination with coalition partners and in consultation with the Iraqi and Afghanistan governments, is regularly reviewing the operational requirements.

Australian Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said: “Non-essential personnel will be relocated to Australia’s main logistics base in the Middle East and those who are close to concluding their operational duties will be able to return home.

“This temporary measure is to preserve the safety of our people and partners, and to limit the spread of Covid-19 in operational areas.

“There will be no impact to the force-protection of ADF personnel remaining in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

The training missions in Iraq and Afghanistan have been suspended in the wake of the outbreak of the virus.

The training programmes will be resumed once the risk from the virus subsidies.

Due to operational security reasons, details related to the relocation of Australian personnel are not being disclosed.

Last week, the UK also withdrew some of its service personnel from Iraq. This was followed by a 60-day pause in the coalition training mission due to the virus.