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Reports: US-Led Coalition Scaling Back Iraq Activities
By Staff, Agencies
The US-led coalition backing Iraqi troops in the fight against Takfiri militants has scaled back operations, a US war official told AFP Saturday, a day after an American strike assassinated top Iranian and Iraqi commanders.
"Our first priority is protecting coalition personnel," the official said, saying the US-led force had "limited" their training and other anti-militant operations.
"It's not a halt," the source said, adding: "We have increased security and defensive measures at Iraqi bases that host coalition troops."
Similarly, Reuters reported on Saturday that the coalition was suspending its training for Iraqi forces, citing a letter seen by the news agency.
The official said the change came after a series of rocket attacks by Iraqi resistance factions on US troops in recent months, with surveillance efforts were now focused on potential new attacks instead of the Wahhabi Daesh [Arabic acronym for “ISIS” / “ISIL”] group.
The rocket attacks, which killed one American contractor last month, have stoked fears of a proxy war between the United States and Iran on Iraqi soil.
Those worries skyrocketed Friday after a US strike in Baghdad killed Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps' Quds Force foreign operations arm.
On Saturday, the Popular Mobilization Units – also known as the Hashed – said a new strike had hit a convoy of their forces north of the capital, with Iraqi state media blaming the United States.
But the spokesman for the US-led coalition denied it, telling the AFP that "there was no American or coalition strike," and the militias issued a new statement denying the strike.
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