Iraqi military officers attend a pullout ceremony at the Qayyarah air base in northern Iraq on Thursday. AFP
Troops with the US-led coalition fighting Daesh began departing an air base in northern Iraq on Thursday, handing it over fully to the Iraqi military as part of a reduction of foreign forces in the country.
The overall drawdown will see coalition forces move into a smaller number of bases and reduce personnel. The coalition has not provided details or numbers.
Qayyara air base, south of the city of Mosul where Daesh declared its caliphate in 2014, is the second base to be handed over to the Iraqis this month. Coalition troops left a base at Al Qaim on the Syrian border last week.
"The coalition will operate from fewer locations, but remains committed to supporting our partners in their fight against Daesh," Brigadier General Vincent Barker of the coalition said in a statement.
Coalition officials say the troop cuts and relocation of units into fewer Iraqi bases is because Iraqi forces are mostly capable of containing the threat from leftover Daesh militants on their own.
The US-led coalition has supported the Iraqi military since 2014 in the fight to neutralise Daesh. A few thousand militants are believed to be remain active, mostly confined to remote areas such as desert and mountains across northern Iraq. They periodically attack security forces but have held no major territory like towns and cities since 2017.
The coalition currently deploys around 7,500 troops in Iraq, including 5,000 Americans.
The attack threatens a dangerous escalation, with suspected US-led coalition air strikes promptly targeting Iran-aligned Iraqi fighters in neighbouring Syria, a war monitor said. At least 18 fighters were reported killed.
On Wednesday, three servicemen, including two Americans, were killed when the base was attacked, the deadliest to target US troops in Iraq since a late December rocket attack on an Iraqi base that killed a US contractor and set in motion a series of tit-for-tat attacks that brought Iraq to the brink of war.
Before dawn on Thursday, two rockets punched into an empty square near an Iraqi security headquarters in the Green Zone, the security forces said. But an Iraqi security source told the media the intended target appeared to be the US embassy, a sprawling compound a few hundred metres further south on the banks of the Tigris.
Iraqi paramilitary forces backed by Iran accused Israeli drones of carrying out a series of attacks on bases run by the militias, saying on Wednesday that they hold the United States ultimately responsible. The militias vowed to defend themselves against any future attack.
He had been scheduled to re-emerge on Friday after a week of recovery and working remotely, but said he would remain at home because he still had a high temperature — one of the symptoms.
The Department of Dhafra Hospitals affiliated to the Abu Dhabi Health Services Company “Seha” opens today “Monday” the screening centre for covid-19 in Madinat Zayed, next to Madinat Zayed Council in Al Dhafra Region. The centre’s daily capacity reaches up to 300 people.
The ministry also announced that 19 cases fully recovered from the coronavirus, after receiving treatment.