Italian Red Cross medics to stay in Iraq

The Italian arm of the Red Cross plans to stay in Iraq despite the ICRC's decision to shut down operations in the country

The Italian arm of the Red Cross said its 32 Italian doctors and nurses will stay in Iraq despite the decision by its international parent organization to temporarily shut down operations in Baghdad and Basra over security concerns.

The Italian medics have been in Iraq since April and plan to continue working at Medical City, a Baghdad hospital, alongside Iraqi staff.

On Saturday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) decided to temporarily close its offices in the two Iraq cities over safety concerns.

"We are temporarily closing our offices in Baghdad and Basra," said Florian Westphal, spokesman of the Swiss-based group.

"We are still discussing what to do with our foreign staff. The situation is extremely dangerous and volatile."

Last month, 12 people were killed when a car bomb exploded at the Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad.