Iraq says joint operations with US-led coalition resume

AP , Thursday 30 Jan 2020

Joint military operations with the US-led coalition to counter the Islamic State group have resumed after a nearly three-week pause, an Iraqi military statement said Thursday.

The pause came amid heightened tensions after a Washington-led airstrike killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad.

The statement said joint operations had resumed in light of the continued threat posed by IS group. Militants belonging to the group are holed up in parts of northern Iraq.

The statement also implied that Baghdad was standing by intentions to reorganize Iraq's military relationship with the US.

``In light of continued activities by the terrorist group (IS) in many areas of Iraq and for the purpose of making use of the remaining time of the international coalition before organizing a new relationship ... it was decided to carry out joint actions,'' the statement said.

The statement was issued by the office of the armed forces' commander in chief. As prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi assumes that role.

The coalition paused operations in support of Iraqi forces in the fight against IS militants on Jan. 5 after a US airstrike killed Iran's elite Quds Force leader Gen. Qassem Soleimani and senior Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on Iraq soil, sparking outrage among Iraqi officials.

Lawmakers passed a resolution to oust foreign troops from Iraq after the US strike. The coalition refocused on protecting military personnel amid fears of an Iranian counter-attack.

Despite signs of de-escalation after Iran retaliated with a barrage of missiles on two Iraqi military bases hosting US troops that caused no fatalities, outgoing Prime Minister Abdul Mahdi has been vocal that American troops should withdraw and has said steps are being taken to move the process forward.

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