U.S. military now needs permission from Iraqi PM before it can provide air support to ground troops
dpa, Hamburg, Germany
All military planes will need authorization from Iraqi Prime Minister Abdel Abdel-Mahdi to fly in Iraqi airspace, a statement said on Thursday, days after an explosion took place at a weapons depot in Baghdad.
Iraqi or non-Iraqi reconnaissance flights, fighter jets, helicopters and drones must get permission from Abdel-Mahdi – who is also the Commander of the Armed Forces, the Iraqi army’s Joint Operations Command said.
All parties “must comply with this directive and any air traffic violation will be considered hostile and will be handled by our air defences immediately,” it added.
On Monday, at least one civilian was killed when a weapons depot blew up at al-Saqr camp, which is run by Shiite militia Hashd Shaabi, in south-west Baghdad.
The cause of the explosion is still unclear, though some reports said it was due to a strike targeting the depot.
The Iran-affiliated Hashd Shaabi, or the Popular Mobilization Forces, have played a major role in the US-backed campaign that routed radical Sunni Islamic State militants in Iraq in 2017.
Abdel-Mahdi also ordered a comprehensive investigation into the explosion, with results expected within one week.
He urged finalizing plans to move all camps and depots affiliated with “the Interior and Defence Ministries as well as the Hashd Shaabi and other factions that took part in the fight against Islamic State to outside the cities.”
In December 2017, Iraq declared victory over Islamic State, having recaptured the large swathes of territory taken by the extremists in 2014 and 2015.
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