Int’l coalition to hand over new military sites to Iraqi forces

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BAGHDAD, July 24 (Xinhua) — The U.S.-led international coalition forces, tasked with fighting the Islamic State (IS) militant group, will hand over the Iraqi security forces new military sites, the official news agency said on Friday.

“The international coalition still supports Iraq in fighting the terrorist Daesh gangs (IS group), and there are more than 61 countries are participating in such support,” the state-run Iraqi News Agency quoted Tahsin al-Khafaji, spokesman of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC), as saying.

“The international coalition will soon hand over some of the sites agreed upon between the Iraqi government and the coalition under a timetable,” al-Khafaji said without giving further details about the location of the sites.

According to the agreed timetable, several military bases were handed over to the Iraqi security forces in northern and western Iraq, al-Khafaji said.

“The government and the coalition are committed to the deadline for handing over the military sites, and there is high coordination in this regard,” he said.

The relation between Baghdad and Washington has witnessed a tension since Jan. 3 after a U.S. drone struck a convoy at Baghdad airport, which killed Qassem Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.

The tension pushed the two sides to hold a round of strategic dialogues on June 12, during which the United States confirmed that it does not seek permanent military presence in the country and that over the coming months the U.S. would continue reducing forces from Iraq and discuss with the government of Iraq the status of remaining forces.

Over 5,000 U.S. troops have been deployed in Iraq to support Iraqi forces in battles against the IS, mainly for training and advisory purposes.

The troops were part of the U.S.-led international coalition that has also been conducting air raids against IS targets in both Iraq and Syria. Enditem

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