The Defense Agency said Tuesday it has decided to keep ground troops in Iraq inside their camp in Samawah in the wake of growing security concerns following fatal clashes between Iraqis and coalition forces elsewhere in the country.

The decision was made after considering that a Shiite religious event will be held around Saturday, Iwao Kitahara, head of the secretariat of the agency’s director general, told a news conference. The Ground Self-Defense Force troops will suspend operations outside their camp until the festivities are over.

The Defense Agency fears that security conditions might get even worse during the upcoming religious event, which commemorates the death of a Shiite leader killed during a conflict with Sunni Muslims in the seventh century.

“The Defense Agency made the decision with the greatest concern possible to ensure the safety of our troops,” Kitahara said.

The 530-member contingent in Samawah will, for the time being, suspend operations such as renovating local schools and repairing roads.

They will continue activities within the camp, including purifying water for locally hired water tankers and coordination with local authorities.

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