The US military is resuming operations against ISIS in Iraq and is working to soon restart training Iraqi forces, US officials said Wednesday, despite deep divisions over the American drone strike that killed Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad and the resulting missile attacks by Iran on Iraqi bases.
One official said some joint operations between the US and Iraqi forces have already begun, but there are not yet as many as before. The official said details are still being worked out to restore the training of Iraqi forces, but that could happen relatively soon.
The New York Times first reported the resumption of joint military operations.
Two US military officials quoted by the paper said the Pentagon wanted to resume these operations in order to pick up the fight against ISIS.
Relations with Iraq were fractured after the US launched a drone strike near Baghdad's international airport on Jan. 3 that killed Soleimani. The Parliament later voted to expel US forces from the country and Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi asked Washington to work out a roadmap for a troop withdrawal. The US flatly rejected that request and has not moved to pull the more than 5,000 troops out.
One official said military leaders have discussed the resumption of operations with the Iraqis, but it's not clear who was involved in those talks or whether Iraqi government leaders are publicly endorsing the move.
Iraqi leaders were angry about the American drone strike and the retaliatory attacks by Iran. Iranian missiles struck Al-Asad Air Base last week, and hit near another base, but warnings sounded and no one was killed or injured.
Iraq officials, however, called the US strike that killed Soleimani an unacceptable breach of Iraqi sovereignty. That strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces.
US officials, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, dismissed the calls for American troops to leave, saying the forces are critical to the fight against ISIS.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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