The United States deploys the Patriot system in Erbil and Ain al-Asad
The United States today, Monday (March 30, 2020), deployed the Patriot air-defense missile system in Iraq.
The move comes about two months after the American forces were attacked by Iranian ballistic missiles, according to what American and Iraqi military sources confirmed.
Washington and Baghdad have been negotiating the deployment of the air defense system since January, when Tehran targeted ballistic missiles at Ein al-Assad base in western Iraq, in response to the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani.
It was not immediately clear if the United States had finally obtained the approval of the Iraqi government.
One of the Patriot batteries reached the Ain al-Assad base, where US soldiers are deployed, last week, and is being installed, according to an American military official and an Iraqi military source.
The US official said that “another battery arrived at a base in Erbil, the largest city in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.”
The same official added that “two other batteries are still in Kuwait, awaiting transportation to Iraq.”
Patriot systems consist of highly sophisticated radars and interceptors that can destroy a ballistic missile while it is flying.
“High-ranking Iraqi officials indicated during a meeting with US Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth Mackenzie last February that Washington could give Baghdad political cover by reducing its number in Iraq with the deployment of defensive missiles,” a military source familiar with the negotiations told France Press.
Indeed, the US-led international coalition has withdrawn its soldiers from several bases in recent weeks.
On Monday, the coalition forces withdrew from a military base in the northern city of Mosul, which is the fourth.
“The ultimate goal is to continue to support Iraqi forces fighting the remnants of the Islamic State, but from fewer bases and with many fewer,” said coalition officials.
The international coalition is also withdrawing hundreds of its trainers temporarily, and has stopped all training with Iraqi forces since the beginning of March, to avoid the risks of a new epidemic of the Corona epidemic among its forces.
A Western diplomat in Baghdad told France Press that “the goal of the United States from the Patriot is to protect its forces, which are now in fewer bases.”
The caretaker head, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, warned the two on Monday of “the danger of doing any act of assault without the approval of the Iraqi government,” without referring to the patriot.
The statement issued by his office referred to “the presence of unauthorized flights” flying over different Iraqi regions.
What is required is for the international coalition to obtain a green light from the Iraqi government to fly any reconnaissance planes and drones, but these permissions expired in early January.
Despite this, US drones are still flying in Iraqi airspace, a US military official told reporters in Baghdad