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At least three rockets were fired at an American oil company between Zubair and Shuaiba in southern Iraq on Monday.

Earlier today reports said five rockets fired at US company in southern Iraq;https://t.co/Z4oU9CCro8

— Seth Frantzman (@sfrantzman) April 6, 2020

The U.S. Military turned over the Habaniya base (also known as al-Taqaddum Air Base) to the Iraqui Army on Saturday, bringing the total to three military bases abandoned in recent weeks. The al-Taqaddum Air Base is located between Ramadi and Fallujah. 

“These pre-planned base transfers are not related to recent attacks against Iraqi bases hosting Coalition troops, or the ongoing COVID-19 situation in Iraq,” Operation Inherent Resolve, said in a news release.

This was reinforced in a statement released by  Brig. Gen. Vincent Barker, OIR director of sustainment.

“The transfer of Taqaddum (Habbaniya) air base is another step forward in the ongoing partnership between Iraqi Security Forces and the anti-ISIS international military Coalition,” Gen. Barker said in a news release. “Over the last month we have transferred four bases to full ISF control. This wouldn’t be possible without the ISF’s proven capability to bring the fight to ISIS.”

“The Coalition will operate from fewer locations, but remains committed to supporting our partners in their fight against Daesh,” OIR said in the release.

Many observers of the situation in Iraq were indeed concerned precisely that the U.S. pullout was due to the military’s inability to protect its troops from rocket attacks launched by Iranian-backed militia. Last month, two American soldiers, one British soldier, and a civilian specialist were killed and an unspecified number were wounded in such an attack at Camp Taji, a military installation north of Baghdad used by coalition forces. 

Some military analysts have suggested that a decision to cancel delivery of Israel’s Iron Dome system, which is designed to deal with short-range rockets, was a grave mistake as the system has proven successful in protecting Israeli civilians from such rocket attacks.

Perhaps in response to this criticism, the U.S. military released a statement on Thursday that they will be moving air defense systems into Iraq following attacks on American and coalition forces in recent weeks. The weapons include Patriot surface-to-air missiles and a variant of the Navy’s SeaRAM and CIWS, or close-in weapon system, which fires 3,000 rounds a minute, a defense official with knowledge of the order told Fox News.

Other analysts, like Charles Lister, a senior research fellow and director of Countering Terrorism and Extremism Program at the Middle East Institute, believe that a U.S. pullout will lead to a takeover by Iran.

 

In addition to transferring bases, the USS Harry Truman carrier strike group was ordered out of the Persian Gulf where it was stationed as a deterrent against Iranian regional expansion. The carrier strike group crossed through the Suez Canal and is currently patrolling the Mediterranean. The Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and embarked 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) are now in the Persian Gulf.

This comes when the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt stationed in the Pacific was sidelined when 155 crew members tested positive for coronavirus. Half of its 4,800 crew members were offloaded.

Lest U.S. citizens are concerned for the safety of their trips, they can rest assured that their Commander-in-Chief is ready for any heightened aggression. “Upon information and belief, Iran or its proxies are planning a sneak attack on U.S. troops and/or assets in Iraq. If this happens, Iran will pay a very heavy price, indeed!” President Trump tweeted last Wednesday.


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