Iraq: U.S. pulling out of three current basing sites

Iraq: U.S. pulling out of three current basing sites
Iran-backed Hashd militia troops flying the Khataib Hezbollah flag man a U.S. 155mm howitzer in fighting in Iraq. (Image via Twitter, Mohamad 6234)

[Ed. – This will be to ensure our troops are better protected from rocket and missile attacks.  We’re still negotiating deployment of at least one Patriot battery to Iraq, but Patriot isn’t effective against shorter-range, lower-trajectory threats like the rocket systems the Iran-backed militias use.  For that you need an Iron Dome type defense.  Although deploying such a defense is envisioned in the near future, it isn’t clear how near.  The most precise estimate I’ve seen is “sometime in 2020.”  Al Qaim is on the Iraq-Syria border where the Euphrates crosses; Qayyarah-West is south of Mosul, and Kirkuk is also in the north, south-southeast of Irbil.  Note: the BBC report spends much time on triumphalist allusions to the Iran-backed militias driving the U.S. out of Iraq entirely, but there is no indication of that from U.S. authorities.]

The US army is pulling out of al-Qaim and two other key military bases in Iraq in the coming weeks. …

A ceremony will take place this week at al-Qaim, where the US will formally hand over equipment to the Iraqi army to help it ensure security in the area.

It will end any US presence along the Iraqi side of the border with Syria.

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A senior US defence official told the BBC that the proximity of Kataib Hezbollah to the base was “a key factor within the calculation of the decision to move forces elsewhere”.

The US also plans to withdraw from Qayara Airfield West, known as Q-West, and Kirkuk.

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