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Minimize US reliance, Iraq tells military

BAGHDAD, Feb 5, (AP): The Iraqi government has told its military not to seek assistance from the US-led coalition forces in operations against the Islamic State group, two senior Iraqi military officials said. The move comes amid a crisis of mistrust tainting US-Iraq ties after an American strike killed a top Iranian general and Iraqi militia commander.

FILE – In this Dec. 26, 2018 file photo, members of the U.S. military cheer as President Donald Trump speaks at a hangar rally at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq The Iraqi government has told its military not to seek assistance from the U.S.-led coalition forces in operations against the Islamic State group, two senior Iraqi military officials said. The move comes amid a crisis of mistrust tainting U.S.-Iraq ties after an American airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and senior Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

Officially, the Iraqi military announced Jan 30 that it and the coalition resumed joint military operations after a three-week halt. The pause was called amid soaring tensions following the Jan 3 US airstrike ordered by President Donald Trump that killed Iranian Gen Qassem Soleimani and senior Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

But in practice, Iraqis are seeking to minimize coalition assistance against IS, based on government orders, two Iraqi military officials and one militia official said this week. “After the killing of Soleimani, the Iraqi government decided to inform us formally not to cooperate and not to seek assistance from the US-led international coalition in any operation,” a senior military intelligence official told The Associated Press.

The US-led coalition paused its mission to fight IS in Iraq on Jan 5 in the wake of the strike. That same day Shiite lawmakers, irate by what they called a flagrant violation of sovereignty, pushed a non-binding resolution requesting that the government cancel legal agreements that provide the basis for US troop presence in the country.

Outgoing Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi has stated publicly that US troops must go, but has stepped back from unilaterally cancelling existing agreements, saying the matter was up to the next prime minister to decide.

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