US-led coalition hands over Qayyarah air base in northern Iraq to army forces: Source
An Iraqi security source says the US-led military coalition purportedly formed to fight the Takfiri terrorist group of Daesh has handed over a strategic air base in the northern province of Nineveh to West Asian country’s military.
According to Press TV, the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the Arabic service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency on Thursday that forces from the US-led alliance departed Qayyarah Airfield West, which lies some 70 km south of Mosul and on the west bank of the Tigris River, and handed it over to Iraqi government troops.
“The coalition will operate from fewer locations, but remains committed to supporting our partners in their fight against Daesh,” Brigadier General Vincent Barker of the coalition said in a statement.
Earlier, an unnamed source told Sputnik that American military aircraft had started the transfer of the logistics of the US-led coalition forces from the air base to another location in Iraq, until the withdrawal process is fully completed.
The development came only a day after French troops in the US-led military coalition left Iraq.
Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf, the Spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, told the official Iraqi News Agency on Wednesday that “French troops had left the Iraqi territory, and that the US-led coalition had cleared the air base.”
“Their departure comes under agreements conducted with the Iraqi government,” Khalaf added without elaborating.
Back on March 21, an Iraqi military source said US troops were planning to withdraw from two bases in Iraq’s northern provinces of Kirkuk and Nineveh, only a few days after forces from the US-led military coalition pulled out from a base on the Iraq-Syria border.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Lebanon's Arabic-language al-Akhbar newspaper in an exclusive interview that the US forces intended to evacuate their bases in the oil-rich Kirkuk region and Qayyarah district after withdrawal from al-Qa’im base, which was established in late 2017.
“The second withdrawal [of US forces] will include the K1 camps in Kirkuk province, and Qayyarah district in Nineveh province. There are also talks of pullout from three other bases close to the Iraqi capital, Baghdad,” the source added.
The source highlighted that the US-led coalition has already informed the Iraqi government of its intention to withdraw from the bases and facilities it runs in the near future.
On March 17, troops from the US-led coalition pulled out from al-Qa’im base in western Iraq on the border with Syria.