IraqMiddle EastNorth AmericaQasem Suleimani

US allies halve number of troops in Iraq coalition: Report

Members of the 29-country US-led military coalition in Iraq have cut the number of their troops in half, a report by the New York Times says.

The US allies have reduced the number of their troops in the American-led coalition in Iraq to 1,200, the report said on Wednesday, citing coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the cut.

The US itself is also reluctant to keep more than the absolute minimum of troops, especially after the Iraqi parliament unanimously approved a bill on January 5, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.

The bill was passed after 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.

Since then, the US-led military coalition purportedly formed to fight the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group has officially handed over a number of its strategic air bases to the country’s government forces, consolidating its troops on fewer bases.

There are currently about 5,200 American troops in Iraq, but the Pentagon is under pressure from both Iraq and the US to reduce the military presence in the Arab country.

Anti-US sentiment has been running high in Iraq following the January assassinations. Iraqi resistance groups have vowed to avenge the killings.

On Monday, influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr once again called for the full withdrawal of American troops from the Arab country’s territory and that of other regional states.

In a statement, Sadr criticized the US for its arrogant approach toward other countries, saying Washington tries to force everyone into surrender through acts of terrorism, warmongering, intimidation, and levelling baseless charges against others.

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