US-led coalition hands over ammunition depots to Iraqi forces

Baghdad, Aug 17 (IANS) The US-led international coalition forces in Iraq, tasked with fighting the Islamic State (IS) terror group, handed over the largest site of ammunition depots in the north of Baghdad to the country's domestic forces.

During a handover ceremony in al-Taji Camp, some 20 km north of Baghdad, up to 50 ammunition depots and related facilities were handed over to the Iraqi side on Sunday, the Iraqi News Agency (INA) said in a report.

The handover of “the primary ammunition depots site, that supports the operations of the Iraqi security forces and the international coalition against IS, was planned for a long time in coordination with the Iraqi government”, a coalition document said.

The international coalition will continue to keep a smaller presence in al-Taji Camp to coordinate the logistical and security operations with the Iraqi forces, the INA said.

Al-Taji Camp is a huge military base containing an air base where some US troops are stationed, reports Xinhua news agency.

Earlier, the international coalition forces handed over several military sites to the Iraqi security forces in central and northern the country.

The relations between Baghdad and Washington have taken a toll since the January 3 US drone attack near the Baghdad airport that killed Qasem Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq's paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.

The tension pushed the two sides to hold a round of strategic dialogues on June 12, during which the US confirmed that it does not seek permanent military presence in the country and that over the coming months, Washington would continue reducing forces from Iraq and discuss with the government in Baghdad the status of remaining forces.

Over 5,000 US troops have been deployed in Iraq to support Iraqi forces in battles against the IS, mainly for training and advisory purposes.

The troops were part of the US-led international coalition that has also been conducting air raids against IS targets in both Iraq and Syria.



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