Iraq Says It Resumes Anti-Islamic State Operations With U.S. Coalition

BAGHDAD (Reuters) -
Smoke billows after an air strike by Iraqi forces toward the positions of the Islamic State terrorists in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, in 2017. (Reuters/Erik De Castro)

Iraq’s military said on Thursday it was resuming operations with the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State terror group, which it had halted after the killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani by U.S. forces and Iran’s retaliatory attacks on bases hosting those forces.

The coalition battling IS terrorists in Iraq and Syria suspended most of its operations on Jan. 5 to focus on protecting coalition forces and bases, as tensions with Iran grew.

Iraq’s parliament also passed a resolution telling the government to end the presence of foreign troops in the country and ensure they not use its territory for any reason.

“In order to exploit the time that remains for the international coalition before the new relationship is set up…  It was decided to carry out joint actions… ” an Iraqi military statement said.

The joint operations include aerial backing for the Iraqi forces depending on their needs, the statement said.

Baghdad condemned both the killing of Soleimani and Iran’s missile attacks on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops as acts of aggression on Iraq and a breach of its sovereignty.

Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has asked Washington to prepare for a U.S. troop withdrawal in line with the request by Iraq’s parliament. So far, the U.S. government has rebuffed the call to withdraw.

However, Washington has said it is exploring a possible expansion of NATO’s mission in Iraq, a plan to “get burden-sharing right in the region.”