Tuesday 26 May 2020 
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US-led coalition officially hands over strategic air base in Iraq’s Anbar to army forces

The US-led military coalition purportedly formed to fight the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group has officially handed over a strategic air base in Iraq’s western province of Anbar to the country’s government forces.

Iraq’s Arabic-language al-Sumaria television network reported that the troops surrendered the military site to the Arab country’s forces on Saturday during a ceremony with Iraqi and US officials in attendance.

The report added that the measure was in line with the US-led alliance’s objective to reduce the number of American soldiers deployed in military bases across Iraq.

An Iraqi security source said earlier this week that a group of American troops from the US-led military coalition had pulled out of the base, which lies at Habbaniyah district and approximately 74 kilometers (45 miles) west of the capital Baghdad, and moved to Ain al-Assad Air Base in Anbar province.

Separately, Spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC), Major General Tahseen al-Khafaji, told the Arabic service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency that Iraqi government will officially assume the full responsibility of al-Taqaddum Air base during a handover ceremony within the next few days.

The US-led forces have already withdrawn from several bases in the Arab country over the past weeks.

On March 30, the media office of the JOC said in a statement that the US-led military alliance had handed over a base in the country’s northern Nineveh province to the Ministry of Defense.

It added, “The move came in accordance with the coalition's commitment to return the sites it has been occupying within the Iraqi military bases and camps.”

The development came only a day after US-led coalition forces withdrew from K1 Air Base, which lies 15 kilometers (9 miles) northwest of Kirkuk, and submitted it to Iraqi forces during a ceremony.

An unnamed Iraqi security source also told the Arabic service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency on March 26 that forces from the US-led alliance had departed Qayyarah Airfield West, which lies some 70 kilometers (43.4 miles) south of Mosul in Nineveh, and handed it over to Iraqi government troops.

On March 17, troops from the US-led coalition had also pulled out from al-Qa’im base in western Iraq on the border with Syria.

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