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Iran Press TV

US forces start constructing airport near Iraq's Ain al-Asad base: Source

Iran Press TV

Wednesday, 11 March 2020 2:54 PM

An Iraqi security source says American military forces have started the first phase of constructing an airport near Ain al-Asad air base, which houses US and other foreign troops in Iraq's western province of Anbar.

"American forces have embarked on the first stage of establishing an airport near Ain Al-Assad air base and in the Hit district of the province following the arrival of professional experts on the matter," the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Arabic-language al-Maalomah news agency on Wednesday.

The source added, "The first stage included locating the airport, breaking ground, spreading layers of gravel, surrounding the place with a security fence, installing closed-circuit television cameras and tightening security measures inside and around the site as US military aircraft flew overhead."

He pointed out that American forces have recently intensified their air patrols to include all cities and regions in Anbar province.

On Monday, an unnamed Iraqi security source said an unspecified number of soldiers from the US-led military coalition, which is purportedly fighting the DaeshTakfiri terrorist group, had arrived at Ain al-Asad air base.

The source told Arabic-language al-Sumaria television network that the soldiers had left their former base south of the Iraqi town of al-Qa'im, located nearly 400 kilometers northwest of the capital Baghdad and near the Syrian border, and landed at the base aboard military cargo aircraft.

The source added that the soldiers were of Norwegian, Danish and American nationalities, and that their munitions and military equipment had been transported to Ain al-Asad as well.

On January 8, Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) fired a number of ballistic missiles at Ain al-Asad air base. The missile attack was in retaliation for a US airstrike authorized by President Donald Trump that assassinated Lieutenant General QassemSoleimani, the commander of the IRGC's Quds Force, along with the deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and their companions near Baghdad International Airport on January 3.

Trump initially said "no Americans were harmed," but subsequent reports revealed that troops were injured in the attack, largely with concussions from the missile blasts.

On February 21, the Pentagon raised to 110 the number of US service members, who suffered traumatic brain injuries (TBI) following Iran's retaliatory strike. It alleged that all of the wounded in the base attack were diagnosed with mild traumatic brain injury and that 77 of them had already returned to duty.

The Pentagon further claimed that 35 others had been transported to Germany for further evaluation, 25 of whom had been sent on to the United States.

Two days after the US attack, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill demanding the withdrawal.

Later on January 9, former Iraqi prime minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi called on the United States to dispatch a delegation to Baghdad tasked with formulating a mechanism for the move.

According to a statement released by his office at the time, Abdul-Mahdi "requested that delegates be sent to Iraq to set the mechanisms to implement the parliament's decision for the secure withdrawal of (foreign) forces from Iraq" in a phone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The 78-year-old politician said that Iraq rejects violation of its sovereignty, particularly the US military's violation of Iraqi airspace in the airstrike that assassinated General Soleimani, Muhandis and their companions.

The US State Department bluntly rejected the request the following day.

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