Iran warning puts thousands of European troops in spotlight

European countries have thousands of troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East, where they mainly operate alongside much larger U.S. deployments

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- A warning by Iran's president that European forces in the Middle East could be at risk if their nations join the U.S. pressure campaign against the Islamic Republic puts a focus on thousands of foreign troops in the region.

"Today, the American soldier is in danger, tomorrow the European soldier could be in danger,” President Hassan Rouhani said at a Cabinet meeting without elaborating.

A look at Europe's military presence:

IRAQ

The European Union as a bloc has several dozen personnel in Baghdad working on security sector reform and advising the Interior Ministry. European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said officials are aware of the threats, but that “we, as the EU, are not leaving Iraq.”

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THE GULF

Britain operates a naval base in Bahrain that can house up to 500 British military personnel and is focused on maritime security. It also has a joint training base in Oman. France has a naval base known as Camp Peace in Abu Dhabi's Port Zayed, which houses some 700 French troops. Britain and France also station troops at U.S. bases in the region.

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AFGHANISTAN

The NATO mission in Afghanistan consists of about 17,000 troops from 39 allied and partner countries. The alliance formally concluded its combat mission at the end of 2014 and provides advice and training to Afghan forces. Britain has nearly 1,000 troops in Afghanistan and Germany has about 1,100.

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LEBANON

Several European countries contribute forces to the U.N. peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, which patrols the tense frontier between Israel and the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group. France contributes about 700 troops. Germany provides more than 100 forces to the peacekeepers' maritime mission.

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Associated Press writers Lorne Cook in Brussels and Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.