Iraq: France withdraws forces in anti-ISIS coalition

France has withdrawn its troops from Iraq, deployed as part of a U.S.-led coalition against the Daesh/ISIS terror group, according to local Iraqi media.

The French forces’ departure came after agreements with Baghdad, Iraq’s official news agency INA quoted Abdel-Karim Khalaf, a spokesman for Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi, as saying.

Khalaf did not give any details on the reason of the withdrawal.

Iraq has been roiled by mass protests since early October over poor living conditions and corruption, forcing Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi to resign.

More than 600 people have been killed and 17,000 injured in the protests so far, according to the Iraqi rights commission.

Previously in the day, the Czech Republic’s National Defense Ministry also announced that it had withdrawn its troops from Iraq due to increasing coronavirus risks and attacks targeting coalition forces.

The U.S. cobbled a coalition together in 2014 with the stated aim of fighting the terrorist group Daesh/ISIS.

In recent weeks, some military bases hosting the coalition forces in Iraq have come under attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

The Camp Taji, which hosts anti-Daesh coalition and NATO’s Iraq Mission personnel, were hit by rockets on March 11. The attack left two American troops and one British serviceman dead, while 14 others were injured.

In response, the U.S. conducted strikes against pro-Iranian militia Kata’ib Hezbollah’s weapons storage sites in Iraq.

The Iraqi parliament decided Jan. 5 to end the military presence of all foreign troops in the country, including the U.S.

The move came after the U.S. killing of top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Iraq on Jan. 3.

Iraq confirmed a total of 28 deaths from the virus known as COVID-19, along with 316 infections so far.

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