US resumes joint military operations in Iraq | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 17, 2020 / LAST MODIFIED: 01:10 AM, January 17, 2020

FIGHT AGAINST IS

US resumes joint military operations in Iraq

The United States on Wednesday resumed joint military operations with Iraq that had been put on pause after the US drone strike that killed a top Iranian general in Baghdad, the New York Times reported.

Two US military officials quoted by the paper said the Pentagon wanted to resume these operations in order to pick up the fight against the Islamic State group.

Washington began the pause on January 5 two days after the strike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad airport.

The same day of the suspension furious Iraqi lawmakers voted to expel the more than 5,000 US troops that are in Iraq.

It was not immediately clear if anyone in the Iraqi government had approved the resumption of the joint military operations, the Times reported.

The Pentagon said it had no information to provide concerning a resumption when contacted by AFP.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday that Iraqi leaders have told him privately they support the US troop presence, despite public appeals for them to leave.

The Iraqi parliament last week voted to rescind the invitation to foreign troops after a US strike at the Baghdad airport killed Soleimani, which also has wide influence in the country.

But Pompeo -- whose State Department often insists it cannot divulge details of his calls -- said he heard a different message in conversations with around 50 Iraqi leaders since the start of the month.

“They won’t say so publicly. But privately they all welcome the fact that America is still there executing its counter terror campaign,” Pompeo said at a forum at Stanford University.

The US troops are ensuring that the Islamic State extremist group does not re-emerge and “providing an opportunity for the Iraqis to gain the sovereignty and independence that most Iraqis want,” Pompeo said.

Pompeo -- who shared the stage with a predecessor, Condoleezza Rice -- said he spoke to leaders of all backgrounds in Iraq including the Shia majority, which enjoys religious ties with Iran.

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