Monday, 27 January, 2020

U.S. 'outraged' by latest attack on Iraqi base

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Travis Berry | 14 January, 2020, 00:32

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to send a delegation to Iraq tasked with devising a system for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country, according to a statement from the premier's office.

Last week, a United States drone attacked a convoy at Baghdad International Airport, killing Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq's paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.

At least four Iraqi soldiers were wounded Sunday in an attack on the Balad air base in northern Iraq, according to Reuters.

The limited Iranian strikes appeared to be mainly a show of force, and de-escalated tensions that had threatened to turn Iraq into a proxy battlefield.

"If the US does that, it will lose Iraq forever", he said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi told Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a call Thursday night that the USA should begin preparing for a troop withdrawal, the Associated Press reported Friday. Trump has invited North Atlantic Treaty Organisation to play a larger role in the Middle East.

The State Department on Friday rebuffed the Iraqi government's request to begin discussions on pulling out troops, saying that any American officials going to Baghdad during a state of heightened tensions would not discuss a "troop withdrawal", as the Iraqi prime minister had requested.

Severe storm sweeps south-east USA , killing at least seven
Texas Governor, Greg Abbott, claimed helicopters, medical and rescue teams had been placed on standby in case they are needed. But there could be brief spin-up tornadoes in this time frame, which develop with little to no advance warning, she said.

On January 5, the Iraqi parliament voted to obligate the Iraqi government "to work towards ending the presence of all foreign troops on Iraqi soil".

"We want to be a friend and partner to a sovereign, prosperous, and stable Iraq", she added.

Ortagus did not elaborate. The current waiver expires in February, and without a new one, Iraq could face severe penalties. Al Jazeera notes that the base also hosts United States trainers, advisers, and a company that maintains F-16 aircraft, however, most of the USA airmen had left the base before the attack. That coalition stood down from its campaign against the terrorist group after Soleimani's killing to concentrate on defending US bases.

Iranian security forces, meanwhile, stepped up patrols in Tehran, seeking to quell further anti-government protests after the regime admitted downing the Ukrainian passenger jet "by mistake". Despite US officials claiming it would be harmful for Iraq to follow through on such a move and hold the vote, ultimately the argument fell flat.

Abdul-Mahdi resigned a year ago but has continued to preside over the government in an acting capacity.

Pompeo indicated Friday the troops would remain, adding that the USA would continue its mission to help train Iraqi security forces and counter the Islamic State group.

Also killed in the strike was senior Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

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