Iraqi govt tells military to ‘minimize USA reliance’

Iraqi govt tells military to ‘minimize USA reliance’”

In the interim, the USA troops fortified bases against potential retaliation by Iran or Iraqi Shiite militias - like the new tower and beefed-up barricades at a base visited recently by the AP in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil.

The status of joint operations was not officially clear to the Iraqis. Both sides resumed cooperation on January 30 after a almost three-week pause. It was not followed up with a clarification.

The IRGC commander was killed on 3 January in a U.S. airstrike as he was leaving Baghdad International Airport, dramatically escalating tensions between the USA and Iran.

On at least two occasions in January, US officials said they expected the break to be lifted shortly.

Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie became the most senior USA military official to visit since an American drone strike in Baghdad killed a top Iranian general, enraging the Iraqis.

Top American leaders have so far rejected Iraqi demands for USA troops to leave and have adopted a wait-and-see attitude in the hope that the problems will disappear. The three spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the press. The attack prompted powerful Shiite parties to call for an overhaul of the existing strategic set-up between Iraq and the US -led coalition.

In response to what Iraqi leaders called a breach of sovereignty, Parliament passed a non-binding resolution urging USA troop withdrawal.

In response to the drone strike that killed Soleimani, the Iraqi parliament adopted a non-binding resolution calling for a withdrawal of USA troops, and then Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi openly requested a withdrawal of the forces. However, the USA worries about Iranian influence in Iraq and would like to stay to counteract that influence as much as possible.

Separately, he likewise welcomed the calling recently of Iraq's Prime Minister Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, who is accepted by Iran- backed Iraqi political groups, however declined by protesters who have really staged months of anti-establishment presentations. Only two weeks ago Baghdad saw the latest demonstration joined by hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to demand USA troops withdrawal, heeding the call of Powerful Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr who called for a "Million Man March". "There are countries that have given signals to Iraq to support us or equip us with reconnaissance planes such as Russian Federation and Iran", said the official. "It's important to go and see the Iraqi government, to show them we're with them and that this is an important relationship", he added. The latest attack only came last week in Iraq's northern province of Nineveh. This week, two Iraqi military officials and a militia officer announced.

Coalition spokesman Myles Caggins said there have been no coalition attacks against ISIS since the murder of Soleimani. In contrast, 45 strikes were conducted in Iraq in October and November. "The Iraqis have not requested assistance with airstrikes in recent weeks, while our operations are paused".

The United States has more than 6,000 troops in Iraq to train and advise Iraqi security forces in their fight against extremist groups like the Islamic State and to provide protection for those troops.

"The Iraqi forces present in Western Iraq need continued air support and logistical support", said the CTS official. "The battle against IS is technological, and we don't own any of these technologies, only the Americans do".

The meeting is at an uncertain time in the future of Iraq. military relations after January 3 U. Drone attack killing Iran's most powerful military commander, General Qassem Soleimani, and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis near Baghdad Airport.

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