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US Troops, Iraqi Unit Make Surprise Withdrawal from Rutba in Anbar

US Troops, Iraqi Unit Make Surprise Withdrawal from Rutba in Anbar

Monday, 22 July, 2019 - 05:45
An American soldier in Iraq. (Reuters file photo)
Baghdad – Hamza Mustafa
American forces deployed in al-Rutba in Iraq’s Anbar region made a surprise withdrawal from the area, announced Karim Hilal al-Karboui, a member of the Anbar provincial council.

The troops pulled out from the region along with a tactical unit from the Anbar police. The unit is tasked with maintaining security in al-Rutba.

Karbouli told Asharq Al-Awsat that no reason was given for the withdrawal.

He revealed that commander of Anbar operations, Mahmoud al-Falahi was being held in Baghdad in a probe linked to a telephone call he allegedly made with an American agent to facilitate a strike against the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).

The development has led to a state of confusion in this sensitive region that borders Syria and Jordan, he added.

Moreover, he revealed that no military operation had taken place in the region due to this confusion, which would ultimately “lift the morale of ISIS terrorists in nearby areas.”

He warned that they may exploit the situation to launch attacks.

Indeed, Karbouli said that since the withdrawal, ISIS began distributing leaflets on al-Rutba residents, threatening them to collaborate with them.

The pullout will have negative ramifications, he warned, urging Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, in his capacity as commander of the armed forces, to bolster military units in the area.

The American troops provided logistic, intelligence and aerial support to the Iraqi tactical unit, he explained. One cannot operate in the vast desert region without the other.

Anbar provincial council member, Athal al-Fahdawi echoed Karbouli’s security concerns.

“The residents are justified in fearing a new security setback,” he told Asharq Al-Awsat, adding that ISIS can launch attacks that can “turn the tables” there.

The pullout coincided with Iraqi forces launching on Saturday the second phase of an operation to eliminate ISIS remnants from areas north of Baghdad.

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