The US military is reportedly expanding its base in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, despite a resolution adopted by the Iraqi parliament on the expulsion of US-led foreign forces from the Arab country.
The pan-Arab al-Araby al-Jadeed media outlet, citing Iraqi military sources, reported on Thursday that US forces at al-Harir base, which lies north of Kurdistan region’s capital and most populated city of Erbil, have been conducting expansion work inside the facility over the past two months.
An unnamed officer with the Military Intelligence Directorate of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense said the work includes construction of underground shelters, warehouses and barracks.
The officer further noted the military base has recently become the center of US operations management in neighboring areas of northern Syria, where US-sponsored militants affiliated with the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are in control.
The report comes despite a demand from both Iraqi officials and people for the withdrawal of foreign forces from the country.
Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill on January 5, 2020, demanding the expulsion of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the Arab country, two days after the assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and his companions in a US strike.
General Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and his Iraqi trenchmate, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units, along with their companions were assassinated in a US terror drone strike authorized by former president Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport on January 3 last year.
Anti-US sentiment has been running high in Iraq since the assassination of the commanders.
Iraqis say the continued US military presence in the country, against the wishes of the Baghdad government and parliament, is a breach of international law as well as the Arab country’s sovereignty.