| 19 June 2024, Wednesday |

Baghdad breaks silence on US troop movement in Iraq

A security advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani denied the presence of any American troop buildup in the country.

This marks the first official statement by a government representative over the issue.

Iraq has witnessed nearly daily reports, images and videos showing significant American military activity in the country, supported by news outlets affiliated with armed Shiite factions.

On Monday, Khalid Al-Yaqoubi, the security affairs advisor to the premier, refuted claims about a US troop buildup in Iraq. However, in statements to the official Iraqi News Agency, he affirmed that “there is a rotation of American units present in Syria.”

In what seems to be a reference to negotiations carried out by an Iraqi security delegation, led by the defense minister, in Washington last week, Al-Yaqoubi said: “The Iraqi leadership, in its negotiations with the Americans, focused on preserving Iraq’s sovereignty.”

“We have secured all our demands in the Washington negotiations.”

He added that “Baghdad and Washington have reached an agreement allowing the operation of drones in secure areas solely with the approval of the Iraqi government.”

“We have also agreed to establish a joint military committee between the two parties to counter the threat of ISIS,” revealed the advisor.

Regarding widespread rumors about US forces’ movements within Iraqi territory, Al-Yaqoubi said: “A lot of misleading information has been disseminated in the media.”

“There is no troop buildup; rather, there is a replacement of American units that were present in Syria,” he added.

Security sources in Iraq had previously commented on the arrival of US forces at the Ain al-Asad base in the Anbar province, stating that it was “part of the international coalition’s process of rotating its units.”

The information leaked by authorities to some media outlets did not go beyond confirming the notion of “rotation.”

However, this was enough for those who propagated the narrative of intensified US movements in Iraq.

Speculation often diverges on this matter, revolving around the idea that Washington is determined to dismantle armed factions loyal to Iran and bring about a fundamental change in political governance in Iraq.

  • Asharq Al-Awsat