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Iran Press TV

US-led coalition to hand over more bases to Iraqi forces in coming days: Official

Iran Press TV

Tuesday, 31 March 2020 5:44 PM

A high-ranking Iraqi military official says the US-led military coalition purportedly formed to fight the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group is going to pull out of more bases and give back the sites to the country's government forces within the next few days, and that there is a timetable for the handover.

"There is a timetable between the Iraqi government and the international coalition forces for the latter to hand over the sites. Coalition forces lately pulled out of their Iraqi base this month, and handed it over to Iraqi security forces in Nineveh (province)," Spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC), Major General Tahseen al-Khafaji, said in an exclusive interview with the official Iraqi News Agency on Tuesday.

He added that the Nineveh base "was providing support to the forces at the time of battles to liberate Nineveh [from the clutches of Daesh terror outfit]. Multinational forces, including Canadian, Belgian, French and American troops, were operating at the site."

Khafaji stressed that the Nineveh Operations Command possesses proven capability to deal with any terrorist threat to the province.

He pointed out that the infrastructure left at the Nineveh base will contribute to the development of the capabilities of Iraqi security forces.

Meanwhile, Commander of Nineveh Operations Command, Nouman al-Zobaie, emphasized that his fellow forces are fully prepared to ensure security in the province following the withdrawal of US-led forces.

On Monday, the media office of the JOC said in a statement that the US-led military alliance had handed over another base in Nineveh province to the Ministry of Defense.

"As a result of fruitful dialogues between the Iraqi government and the international alliance, a site occupied by the International Alliance Mission and within a camp under the Nineveh Operations Command was returned to Iraqi forces after the coalition forces withdrew from it," the statement read.

It added, "The move came in accordance with the coalition's commitment to return the sites it has been occupying within the Iraqi military bases and camps."

The development came only a day after US-led coalition forces withdrew from K1 Air Base, which lies 15 kilometers (9 miles) northwest of Kirkuk, and submitted it to Iraqi forces during a ceremony.

"Given the successes achieved by the Iraqi security forces in the campaign against Daesh, the coalition is redeploying its forces to other positions in Iraq. Such movements had been planned a long time ago with the Iraqi government," the US-led alliance said in a statement on Sunday.

The coalition further alleged that the transfer of US-led military forces had nothing to do with the missile attacks against Iraqi bases hosting the coalition forces, or the outbreak of COVID-19 – the disease caused by the highly contagious new coronavirus, in Iraq.

Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill on January 5, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country following the assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) – better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha'abi, and their companions in a US airstrike authorized by President Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport two days earlier.

Later on January 9, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, the former Iraqi prime minister, 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 Iraq rejects any violation of its sovereignty, particularly the US military's violation of Iraqi airspace in the assassination airstrike.

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