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In December 2019, Iraq and the United States began discussing the partial withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq. In January 2020, during massive protests[1] and following an escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran, the Iraqi Council of Representatives passed a non-binding measure to "expel all foreign troops from their country," including American and Iranian troops. Following the vote, U.S. President Donald Trump initially refused to withdraw from Iraq, but began withdrawing in March. [2]

In March 2020, the American-led coalition began the transfer of bases back to Iraqi security forces, citing developments in the multi-year mission against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). As of April 4, 2020, four bases have been transferred. The base transfers and withdrawal were accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Iraq and the threat of Iranian proxies.

Iraq denounced the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani by the United States as a violation of its sovereignty.

The United States completed its withdrawal of troops in December 2011, concluding the Iraq War.[3] In June 2014, the United States formed Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) and re-intervened at the request of the Iraqi government due to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[4] Iran also intervened in Iraq in June 2014. On December 9, 2017, Iraq declared victory against ISIL, concluding the 2014–2017 Iraqi Civil War and commencing the latest Iraqi insurgency.[5]

In May 2019, four merchant ships were attacked by limpet mines in the Gulf of Oman.[6] Tensions rose between the United States and Iran, after the United States blamed Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for the incident.[6] In June 2019, a nearly-identical incident occurred involving two merchant ships.[6] In December 2019, the United States began discussing with Iraq about plans to withdraw from certain bases.[7] That same month, the K-1 Air Base was attacked, resulting in one American fatality and six injuries.[6] The United States claimed that Kata'ib Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy group, was responsible for the attack.[6] The United States responded by conducting airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Kata'ib Hezbollah locations.[6]

On December 31, 2019 through January 1, 2020, the United States Embassy in Baghdad was attacked in response to the airstrikes.[6] On January 3, 2020, the United States conducted an airstrike that killed Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani and Kata'ib Hezbollah commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.[6] Iraq protested that the airstrike violated th

Iranian–U.S. conflict in Iraq

In December 2019, Iraq and the United States began discussing the partial withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq. In January 2020, during massive protests[1] and following

In December 2019, Iraq and the United States began discussing the partial withdrawal of American military forces from Iraq. In January 2020, during massive protests[1] and following an escalation of tensions between the United States and Iran, the Iraqi Council of Representatives passed a non-binding measure to "expel all foreign troops from their country," including American and Iranian troops. Following the vote, U.S. President Donald Trump initially refused to withdraw from Iraq, but began withdrawing in March. [2]

In March 2020, the American-led coalition began the transfer of bases back to Iraqi security forces, citing developments in the multi-year mission against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). As of

In March 2020, the American-led coalition began the transfer of bases back to Iraqi security forces, citing developments in the multi-year mission against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). As of April 4, 2020, four bases have been transferred. The base transfers and withdrawal were accelerated due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Iraq and the threat of Iranian proxies.

The United States completed its withdrawal of troops in December 2011, concluding the Iraq War.[3] In June 2014, the United States formed Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) and re-intervened at the request of the Iraqi government due to the rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).[4] Iran also intervened in Iraq in June 2014. On December 9, 2017, Iraq declared victory against ISIL, concluding the 2014–2017 Iraqi Civil War and commencing the latest Iraqi insurgency.[5]

In May 2019, four merchant ships were attacked by limpet mines in the Gulf of Oman.[6] Tensions rose between the United States and Iran, after the United States blamed Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for the incident.[6] In June 2019, a nearly-identical incident occurred involving two merchant ships.[6] In December 2019, the United States began discussing with Iraq about plans to withdraw from certain bases.[7] That same month, the K-1 Air Base was attacked, resulting in one American fatality and six injuries.[6] The United States claimed that Kata'ib Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy group, was responsible for the attack.[6] The United States responded by conducting airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Kata'ib Hezbollah locations.[6]

On December 31, 2019 through January 1, 2020, the United States Embassy in Baghdad was attacked in response to the airstrikes.[6] On January 3, 2020, the United States conducted an airstrike that killed Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani and Kata'ib Hezbollah commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.[6] Iraq protested that the airstrike violated their sovereignty.[8&#

In May 2019, four merchant ships were attacked by limpet mines in the Gulf of Oman.[6] Tensions rose between the United States and Iran, after the United States blamed Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for the incident.[6] In June 2019, a nearly-identical incident occurred involving two merchant ships.[6] In December 2019, the United States began discussing with Iraq about plans to withdraw from certain bases.[7] That same month, the K-1 Air Base was attacked, resulting in one American fatality and six injuries.[6] The United States claimed that Kata'ib Hezbollah, an Iranian proxy group, was responsible for the attack.[6] The United States responded by conducting airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against Kata'ib Hezbollah locations.[6]

On December 31, 2019 through January 1, 2020, the United States Embassy in Baghdad was attacked in response to the airstrikes.[6] On January 3, 2020, the United States conducted an airstrike that killed Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani and Kata'ib Hezbollah commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.[6] Iraq protested that the airstrike violated their sovereignty.[8] On January 5, 2020, the Iraqi Council of Representatives voted to obligate Iraq's government "to work towards ending the presence of all foreign troops on Iraqi soil."[9] U.S. President Donald Trump responded to the resolution by threatening to impose sanctions against Iraq.[10]

U.S. President Donald Trump, January 3, 2020[10]

On January 5, 2020, the Iraqi Parliament voted to obligate Iraq's government "to work towards ending the presence of all foreign troops on Iraqi soil."[9] It was unclear if the resolution was binding and no timetable for withdrawal was set.[4] Qais Khazali, leader of Iranian proxy group Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, stated "If [US troops] don't leave, then they will be considered occupation forces."[4] Trump threatened to impose sanctions on Iraq in response to the vote.[10] According to a letter sent by a senior U.S. commander to Iraqi officials on January 6, 2020, "the United States may be preparing to withdraw its troops",[11] but after a while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley, announced that it was a draft sent by "honest mistake."[12]

On January 8, 2020, Iran launched "Operation Martyr Soleimani", conducting missile strikes against U.S. troops stationed in Iraq.[11] 110 U.S. military personnel suffered from traumatic brain injuries.[13] The United States responded by insisting that its troops would stay in Iraq.[11] Speaking on the withdrawal, Trump stated "At some point, we want to get out. But this isn’t the right point."[11] Two days later, Abdul-Mahdi reiterated that all foreign troops must withdraw from Iraq, including Iran.[9] It was unclear if the resolution was binding and no timetable for withdrawal was set.[4] Qais Khazali, leader of Iranian proxy group Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, stated "If [US troops] don't leave, then they will be considered occupation forces."[4] Trump threatened to impose sanctions on Iraq in response to the vote.[10] According to a letter sent by a senior U.S. commander to Iraqi officials on January 6, 2020, "the United States may be preparing to withdraw its troops",[11] but after a while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley, announced that it was a draft sent by "honest mistake."[12]

On Ja

On January 8, 2020, Iran launched "Operation Martyr Soleimani", conducting missile strikes against U.S. troops stationed in Iraq.[11] 110 U.S. military personnel suffered from traumatic brain injuries.[13] The United States responded by insisting that its troops would stay in Iraq.[11] Speaking on the withdrawal, Trump stated "At some point, we want to get out. But this isn’t the right point."[11] Two days later, Abdul-Mahdi reiterated that all foreign troops must withdraw from Iraq, including Iran.[14] On January 24, 2020, Iraqi demonstrators marched to demand that the U.S. withdraw its troops.[15] Due to security concerns, some NATO countries including Canada, Germany, Croatia and Slovakia have declared that they are taking troops out of Iraq, at least temporarily.[16]

On March 11 and March 14, 2020, Camp Taji was attacked, supposedly by Kata'ib Hezbollah, killing three Coalition personnel.[17] The United States responded to the first attack on Camp Taji by targeting five Kata'ib Hezbollah weapon storage facilities with air strikes.[18] On March 19, 2020, the al-Qaim base near the Iraq–Syria border was transferred from the coalition to Iraqi security forces.[19] Iraqi major general Tahsin Khafaji stated "This is the first step of US troops withdrawing from Iraq."[19] On March 20, 2020, CJTF-OIR confirmed that certain troops would be withdrawing from Iraq due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[20] On that same day, United States Central Command ordered a 14-day "stop movement" preventing any U.S. troops from entering or leaving Iraq and Afghanistan because of the pandemic.[21]

The U.S. Army left the Qayyarah Airfield West on March 26, 2020.[22] The third base, K-1 Air Base, to be transferred by the United States was near Kirkuk.[23] On April 4, 2020, the coalition transferred the Al-Taqaddum Air Base, making it the fourth base to be transferred to Iraqi forces.[23] ISIL has planned to take advantage of the vacuum in the Syrian Desert caused by the coronavirus-expedited withdrawal of U.S. troops.[24] In an April 2020 news release, CJTF-OIR reiterated that the base transfers were pre-planned and "are not related to recent attacks against Iraqi bases hosting Coalition troops, or the ongoing COVID-19 situation in Iraq."[23] However, an inspector general report released in May 2020 admitted that though the base transfers were planned ahead of time, they were accelerated due to the threat of Iranian proxies and the pandemic.[25]

June 2020 – present: American–Iraqi security dialogue

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