Iraqi govt tells military to ‘minimize US reliance’ – report
The government in Baghdad has told its military not to seek assistance from the US-led coalition in operations against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), AP reported, citing Iraqi military officials. Officially, the Iraqi military announced on January 30 that it resumed joint military operations with the coalition after a three-week halt.
The pause was called amid tensions following the January 3 US airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and senior Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. In practice, Iraqis are seeking to minimize coalition assistance against IS, based on government orders, two Iraqi military officials and one militia official said this week.
Outgoing PM Adel Abdul-Mahdi has stated publicly that US troops must go, but has stepped back from unilaterally canceling existing agreements, saying the matter was up to the next prime minister to decide. Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Allawi has not made his policy toward the troop presence known.
Some 5,200 US soldiers are stationed in Iraqi bases to support local troops fighting IS. They are part of a larger international coalition invited by the Iraqi government in 2014.