The US Department of Defense has suspended all weapon deliveries to Iraq, due to security concerns, USAF spokesman Brian Brackens told Inside Defense.
The deliveries that are halted include supply of Sidewinder missiles, Maverick missiles and other arms for Iraq’s F-16 fleet.
The U.S. would begin shipments again “when the environment in Iraq is safe enough to resume,” Brackens said.
According to Sara Sirota, an Inside Defense Air Force reporter, the last delivery was made on November 14th and it was part of a contract worth $1.8 billion concluded in 2016. It is unclear how many ships remained until its fulfillment.
The last shipment was made Nov 14. The $1.8 billion deal signed in May 2016 provided Sidewinder missiles, Maverick missiles & other weapons to Iraq. Unclear how many have been delivered and how many left to go. https://t.co/Bplv32Mi6L
— Sara Sirota (@SaraLSirota) January 27, 2020
The Iraqi armed forces were rebuilt around US weapons and doctrines after the 2003 invasion and occupation by the US-led coalition.
The Iraqi Armed Forces frequently use their F-16 fighter jets to attack ISIS pockets still remaining in the country.
#Breaking: Just in – Two Iraqi airforce members from have taken of from the Balad Airbase very early this morning, bombing a training camp of #ISIS in the Hamrin Mountains with 2 F-16 fighter jets. #Iraq #Terrorism pic.twitter.com/vqNyIgirdS
— Sotiri Dimpinoudis (@sotiridi) January 21, 2020
This move is obviously due to the increased tensions in the region, following the US assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, in addition to the deputy chief of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Units Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and other officials.
The situation was already tense, as on December 29th, 2019, the US carried out several airstrikes on Kata’ib Hezbollah positions and killed at least 25 of its members.
The group vowed a response, and the US Embassy in Baghdad was stormed by PMU supporters on December 31st.
In response to the recent US acts of aggression, the Iraqi parliament voted a non-binding resolution calling for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from the country. Some countries withdrew some of their troops, while the US maintained that it had no plans to withdraw any personnel.
In addition, US President Donald Trump repeatedly said that if Iraq wanted the troops removed it had to pay for the expensive facilities that the US constructed in the country to house those same troops.
“There are no plans by the US military to withdraw from Iraq,” Assistant to the Secretary of Defense Jonathan Rath Hoffman told reporters, adding that “the consensus in Iraq seems to be that the United States forces there are a force for good.”
According to reports, as of January 15th, the US and Iraqi armed forces resumed their anti-terrorism operations in the country, less than two weeks after it was suspended.
Washington has also threatened that it will impose sanctions on Iraq if the US forces are expelled. Meanwhile, when Iraqi President Barham Salih met with US President Donald Trump on January 22nd, the latter reiterated US’s support for stability in Iraq.
MORE ON THE TOPIC:
- Trump’s Actions Against Iran Put US Forces In Iraq Into Grave Danger
- Iraqis Hold “Million-Strong” March Against US Military Presence In Country (Videos)
- United States ‘Likely’ To Deploy Patriot Systems To Protect Troops In Iraq From Iranian Missiles Strikes
- Pentagon Says It Won’t Withdraw Troops from Iraq