05:33 GMT06 June 2020
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    Earlier it was reported that Washington ordered preparations for a military campaign against Iranian-backed militia groups in Iraq as the number of coronavirus patients around the world eclipses 660,000, according to Johns Hopkins University data.

    The US has intensified security measures in the embassy located in the Baghdad's Green Zone as troops plan to carry out attacks against Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, Press TV reported

    According to the report, US troops are gathering at major military bases to be better protected from rocket fire from the PMU, knowing that every attack carried out against the militia groups will receive a response. 

    “Americans are well aware of the fact that any attack against resistance fighters or Hashd al-Sha’abi will not go unanswered, therefore, they want to protect their forces against any potential missile attack by resistance factions,” said Karim Alawi, a member of the Iraqi parliament security and defence committee, cited by Press TV. 

    Earlier, the NYT reported that the Pentagon had issued a secret directive ordering the preparation of military campaigns against Iranian-backed militia groups in Iraq, such as Kata'ib Hezbollah and "Iranian paramilitary forces - members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC)". The plan allegedly received criticism from the top US commander in Iraq. 

    The US suspects that the PMU, a part of the Iraqi army, are collaborating with pro-Iranian militia groups and the IRGC. Tensions involving the US in Iraq intensified after IRGC top general Kasem Soleimani and Kata'ib Hezbollah founder Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were assassinated in an extrajudicial killing directly ordered by US President Donald Trump. 

    US Forces on Thursday handed over the Qayyarah Airfield West to Iraqi Security Forces, weeks after similarly transferring the Qaim base, as part of a troop draw-down in the country. 

    The withdrawal of US forces and those of the US-led coalition from Iraq was explained as a necessary measure amid the COVID-19 outbreak and the "success in the campaign against Daesh*", according to a Combined Joint Task Force - Operation Inherent Resolve's (CJTF-OIR) statement issued on 20 March.

    The head of the Security and Defence Committee in the Iraqi parliament, Mohammad Reza, said that the troop withdrawal is a result of a January vote by Iraq’s parliament ordering US forces to leave the country. The vote in question took place following the targeted assassination of Soleimani and al-Muhandis.

    *Daesh (ISIL/ISIS/IS/Islamic State) is a terrorist organisation banned in Russia ana many other countries

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    US DoD Orders Preparation of 'Destruction' Campaign Against 'Iranian-Backed Groups' in Iraq - Report
    Lite Mode? US Army to Reportedly Suspend Some Military Training Due to COVID-19 Pandemic
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    COVID-19, Middle East, Iraq, US
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