The US-led coalition fighting ISIS in Iraq has handed over a military base south of the capital Baghdad to the country’s security forces.
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“Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF–OIR) turned over its facilities in Besmaya Range Complex to Iraqi security forces, thanks to the successes achieved by the troops in the campaign against ISIS (Daesh),” the official Iraqi News Agency quoted Major General Gerald Strickland, the Deputy Commander-Strategy of CJTF-OIR, as saying in a press release on Saturday.
Strickland said he is “working to re-position his forces inside Iraq,” noting that “these military moves were planned long ago in coordination with the government of Iraq.”
The statement said the coalition was "handing over the seventh site this year to Iraqi security forces, as part of an ongoing partnership between the Iraqi forces and the international coalition against ISIS (Daesh,” praising the crucial role of Iraqi soldiers in the liberation of the strategic northern city of Mosul three years ago.
On Friday afternoon, four Katyusha rockets struck Besmaya base, where Spain had led the training of Iraqi security forces since 2015, Press TV reported. Iraq's Security Media Cell announced in a statement published on its official Twitter page that one of the projectiles landed on a warehouse, while another hit caravans belonging to the protection regiment of the base. The other two rockets fell in an open area. The rockets only caused some material damage, and there was no mention of casualties.
No group claimed immediate responsibility for the rocket attack.
On July 22, a convoy carrying logistical support for American troops was struck by two roadside bombs on the al-Bathaa road in Iraq’s southern province of Dhi Qar.
Turkey's official Anadolu news agency, citing an unnamed Iraqi security source, reported at the time that the explosive devices had damaged some of the trucks and their consignments.
A week earlier, the Lebanese Arabic-language al-Mayadeen television news network, citing Iraqi tribal sources, reported that an explosion had targeted a US convoy carrying logistic supplies in Iraq’s north-central province of Salahuddin. It was not immediately known if the attack had resulted in any casualties.
The resistance group Ashab al-Kahf later claimed responsibility in a statement, saying, “We confirm the destruction of a large logistical support convoy with its materials in Salahuddin.”
Anti-US sentiment has been running high in Iraq following the assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the PMU, and their companions in a US assassination drone airstrike authorized by President Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport on January 3.
Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill two days later, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.
The US responded to the move by threatening crippling sanctions against the Arab country.