A senior Iraqi military official speaking to The New Arab said the US has violated the terms of its agreement to maintain a military footprint in Iraq due to the presence of “offensive weapons” at an American base.
The unnamed Iraqi official said he saw offensive weapons, including Black Hawk and Apache helicopters, during a visit to the Ain al-Asad base in western Iraq. “This is contrary to the agreement concluded in 2021, which allowed the presence of defensive weapons with the advisory task force,” the official said.
In December 2021, the US changed its presence in Iraq from a “combat role” to an “advisory role” to placate the many elements in Iraq who want the US to leave. But the US did not withdraw any troops and still has about 2,500 troops in Iraq today.
The Iraqi government has been under pressure to expel the US since January 2020, when the US killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in a drone strike in Baghdad. In the wake of the assassination, Iraq’s parliament voted to end the US military presence.
The US says it’s in Iraq to help the government fight ISIS remnants, but the presence also supports the US occupation of eastern Syria. The Iraqi military official who spoke with The New Arab said Baghdad will press the US about the offensive weapons at the Ain al-Asad base, especially considering US activity in neighboring Syria.
Over the past week, the US-backed Kurdish-led SDF in Syria has been fighting against local Arab tribes in Deir Ezzor, who have also received support from the US. According to The New Arab, SDF commander Mazloum Abdi said the US-led coalition had provided air support in the fight against the Arab tribes, but the claim is not confirmed.