In first, Denmark deploys troops to guard synagogue, Israeli embassy
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Yom Kippur

In first, Denmark deploys troops to guard synagogue, Israeli embassy

Unprecedented use of soldiers in capital since World War II follows deadly attacks in 2015 and with national terror threat level at ‘serious’

Rabbi Jair Melchior (R) talks to a Danish soldier guarding the Jewish Synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark, on September 29, 2017.  Danish soldiers took to the streets of Copenhagen for the first time on Friday, September 29, 2017, replacing the police to protect the synagogue and the Israeli embassy which have been guarded ever since two deadly 2015 attacks. (AFP PHOTO / SCANPIX DENMARK / Nikolai Linares)
Rabbi Jair Melchior (R) talks to a Danish soldier guarding the Jewish Synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark, on September 29, 2017. Danish soldiers took to the streets of Copenhagen for the first time on Friday, September 29, 2017, replacing the police to protect the synagogue and the Israeli embassy which have been guarded ever since two deadly 2015 attacks. (AFP PHOTO / SCANPIX DENMARK / Nikolai Linares)

COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The Danish military deployed troops in Copenhagen on Friday to guard the city’s synagogue and the Israeli embassy, hours ahead of the Yom Kippur Jewish holiday.

The deployment was the first by troops in the Danish capital since WWII.

The synagogue and the Israeli embassy have been under police protection since two deadly attacks in 2015.

An AFP correspondent at the scene saw armed soldiers standing outside Copenhagen’s main synagogue, with the narrow medieval street where it is located sealed off on both ends, hours before the start of Yom Kippur on Friday evening.

“This is the first time they are used in this type of situation, so it’s unique,” Copenhagen police spokesman Rasmus Bernt Skovsgaard said.

Danish soldiers guard the Jewish Synagogue in Copenhagen, Denmark, on September 29, 2017. Danish soldiers took to the streets of Copenhagen for the first time on Friday, September 29, 2017, replacing the police to protect the synagogue and the Israeli embassy which have been guarded ever since two deadly 2015 attacks. (AFP PHOTO / SCANPIX DENMARK / Mads Claus Rasmussen)

Danish police have protected Jewish institutions in the country since Omar El-Hussein, a Danish citizen of Palestinian origin who swore allegiance to the Islamic State group, opened fire outside the synagogue, killing one Jewish man and wounding two police officers in 2015.

Hours earlier, El-Hussein attacked a cultural centre hosting a free speech and Islam forum attended by the controversial Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who faced death threats for penning a caricature of the Prophet Mohammad.

A filmmaker, Finn Norgaard, was killed in that attack. Police later killed El-Hussein.

The soldiers, who will be deployed until March 2018, are “well-trained and equipped to carry out this type of mission,” Lieutenant Colonel Steen Dalsgaard of the Danish army told AFP.

Some 160 soldiers have been deployed in Copenhagen and at the Danish-German border, where controls were restored at the end of 2015 to limit a migrant influx.

Denmark’s terror threat level is “serious”, ranked four on a five-point scale, according to the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET).

The latest deployment is not a response to any new threat, but rather aims to assist Copenhagen police strained by operations in other parts of the city.

Police will continue to guard the Jewish museum and the school.

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