The NATO chief went on to defend the training mission, which includes 250 Canadian soldiers and is being commanded by a Canadian general, as essential for defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant even as he called on Iran to exercise restraint.
It could be increasingly hard for Canada to continue its mission in Iraq now that country's lawmakers have called for foreign troops to leave.
At an extraordinary session, the Iraqi Parliament passed a resolution on Sunday calling for the government to take action to end the presence of all foreign soldiers in Iraq. The repositioning of troops comes amid a temporary suspension of NATO's training mission in Iraq over security concerns.
"These forces can be moved back at any time if training in Iraq resumes", the ministry said in a statement.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on January 6, 2020.
Foreign forces have been in Iraq mainly as part of a USA -led coalition that has trained and backed up Iraqi security forces against the threat of Islamic State militants.
"The strike was such a surprise to all of us", one Western diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
"It would send the wrong signal if we withdraw", one North Atlantic Treaty Organisation diplomat said. "One Iraqi MP said Trump's unpredictability made such a move risky when U.S. air support in particular might still be needed to prevent a resurgence of Islamic State", the UK Guardian reported.
The US will not pull its troops out of Iraq the country's Defence Secretary has said, despite a letter from a US general there appearing to suggest it would.
The letter was signed by United States Marine Corps Brigadier General William H. Seely III, commanding general of Task Force Iraq, the US -led military coalition against Islamic State.
The announcement came after a top United States general in the country gave his Iraqi counterpart a letter saying American forces would be exiting the country over the next days and weeks.
While it was unsigned, the letter was delivered to the Iraqis and leaked to media in the country by the prime minister's office. Soleimani was commander of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Quds Force. But there's been no decision made to leave Iraq.
The Department of National Defence is still assessing what happened and Canadian special operations forces remain in Iraq.
In an escalating war of words that has heightened worldwide concern and rattled financial markets, Trump threatened yet more "major retaliation" if Tehran hits back, including strikes on Iranian cultural sites.
The letter's existence was revealed after the Iraqi Parliament voted Sunday to work in the direction of eradicating all overseas troops from the nation, following a deadly U.S. drone strike on Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani on Iraqi soil that dramatically escalated tensions between Baghdad and Washington. American forces originally redeployed to the country in 2014 after the IS advance into northern Iraq threatened the US Consulate in Erbil.