The Arabic-language al-Arabi al-Jadid newspaper quoted Iraqi sources as saying on Thursday that the US forces are at al-Harir base in the Iraqi Kurdistan region.
They added that al-Harir base has been developed for the first time in years and that the process has been underway for about two months, a move against a decision by the Iraqi parliament to expel foreign troops from the country.
An Iraqi Defense Ministry military intelligence officer also told the newspaper that development of al-Harir base includes the construction of underground shelters and several warehouses.
The officer further noted the military base has recently become the US operations command and control center in neighboring areas of Northern Syria, which are controlled by the Kurdish militias known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.
Ein al-Assad base in Western Anbar province (Western Iraq) and the al-Harir base in Northern Erbil are the two main US bases in Iraq with a capacity of 7,000 troops.
Late last month, Iraqi parliamentarians served fiery responses to a decision coming out of Washington to review the previous US administration’s plan to draw down the number of American forces in the Arab country.
Baghdad Today news agency reported the reactions that were issued by MPs Hassan Shaker al-Ka’abi, head of the Badr parliamentary bloc, and Mukhtar al-Mousavi, representative of the Fateh Alliance, to which Badr is affiliated, on Wednesday.
The US’s new Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin stated during his confirmation hearing last week that he was to reexamine the plan announced by the administration of former President Donald Trump for reducing the number of troops in Iraq and Afghanistan each to 2,500.
Aside from throwing hopes of the drawdown into question, Austin’s remarks also flew in the face of a decision by the Iraqi parliament last January for all the US-led troops to leave the Iraqi soil. The legislature passed the law following the US’s assassination of top Iranian and Iraqi anti-terror commanders, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in a drone strike in Baghdad.
The Iraqi lawmakers insisted that the parliamentary ratification had to be implemented at the end of the day.
Ka’abi said the legislative body had made its final decision in this regard, and referred to the Iraqis’ millions-strong rallies in the aftermath of the assassinations to protest Washington’s gall to resort to such barbaric atrocity in violation of the Arab country’s sovereignty and the international law.
Mousavi noted the parliamentary law was definitive and the Joe Biden administration had to understand this.
Iraq does not need American or any other foreign forces on its soil, he added, urging Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government to act on the law regardless of the Biden administration’s position.