The United States has started withdrawal of its troops from Iraq, Al Arabiya TV reported Monday citing Iraqi parliament member from the National Security and Defense Commission Ali al-Ghanimi.
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According to the lawmaker, U.S. troops are beginning to leave 15 military bases in the country and will confine their presence to two big bases, the one near the city of Erbil in northern Iraq and Ain al-Asad airbase in the Anbar province some 180 kilometers west of Baghdad.
Those two bases were struck on Jan. 7 by dozens of Irani missiles in a retaliatory offensive for the killing of Major-General Qassem Soleimani. Although the U.S. reported that no personel was injured at the time to downplay the strike, up until Monday there are over 100 cases of soldiers with traumatic brain injuries.
With regards to the reports of a withdrawal, there have been no official comments from the U.S. as of yet but Iraq’s lawmakers and the country’s government continues to uphold their decision to expel all foreign forces from Iraq.
On Jan. 5, the Iraqi Parliament convened to vote on a resolution that called for the expulsion of the U.S. Armed Forces from the country. Since it was passed in the absence of several leading parliamentary factions, they argue this resolution is illegitimate and unbinding and its legality is yet to be confirmed by the country’s Federal Supreme Court.
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However, right after the decision, backed by millions in Iraq, U.S. President Donald Trump warned the country that they could face sanctions if they force the U.S. military to withdraw. The Pentagon has continuously refused to abide by Iraq’s decision.
The U.S. military has had a military presence inside of Iraq since the 2003 invasion that led to the overthrow of then-President Saddam Hussein and his government. While former President Barack Obama did ‘officially’ end the Iraq War in 2010, some 5,200 troops remained in an advisory role.
These troops are based in several parts of the country, including the Al-Anbar and Nineveh provinces that border neighboring Syria. The U.S. has used these bases in Nineveh and Al-Anbar to reinforce and resupply their forces inside Syria as they continue operations against the Islamic State group.