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US forces reportedly planning to withdraw from two bases in Iraq

In this August 20, 2017 file photo, US Army soldiers stand next to a guided-missile launcher, a few miles from the frontline, in the village of Abu Ghaddur, east of Tal Afar, Iraq. (By the Associated Press)

US troops are planning to withdraw from two bases in Iraq’s northern provinces of Kirkuk and Nineveh, an Iraqi military source says, only a few days after forces from the US-led military coalition purportedly fighting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group pulled out from a base on the Iraq-Syria border.

The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Lebanon's Arabic-language al-Akhbar newspaper in an exclusive interview on Saturday that the US forces intended to evacuate their bases in the oil-rich Kirkuk region and Qayyarah district, which lies on the west bank of the Tigris river and about 60 kilometers (35 miles) south of Mosul, after withdrawal from al-Qa’im base, which was established in late 2017.

“The second withdrawal (of US forces) will include the K1 camps in Kirkuk province, and Qayyarah district in Nineveh province. There are also talks of pullout from three other bases close to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad,” the source added.

The source highlighted that the US-led coalition has already informed the Iraqi government of its intention to withdraw from the bases and facilities it runs in the near future.

On March 17, troops from the US-led coalition pulled out from al-Qa’im base in western Iraq on the border with Syria.

The withdrawal came amid an uptick in rocket attacks targeting Iraqi military bases hosting US troops.

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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