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US: Troops in Iraq at risk, we retain right to defend

Pentagon spokesperson John F Kirby.
Pentagon spokesperson John F Kirby. Photo: DoD/US government

Washington, Jan 5 (MNN) The US has said that its forces in Iraq are operating in a dangerous environment but retain their right and ability to defend themselves.

Pentagon Press Secretary John F Kirby told reporters on Tuesday (local time) that US forces had shifted their role from combat to advice and assist after an agreement with Iraq.

The forces had launched strikes against rocket-launching sites near Green Village in Syria and shot two armed drones that targeted forces in Al Asad Air Base, the Department of Defence said. There were no casualties among friendly forces.

Kirby maintained that the strikes against rocket-launching sites were not airstrikes, adding that US forces hit the sites to ensure rockets were not launched from there against coalition forces.

“They clearly are at risk in the region. One of the reasons why these sites were hit was that we had reason to believe that they were going to be used as launch sites for attacks on Green Village. So clearly, our men and women remain in harm’s way. And we have to take that threat very seriously. We always have the right of self-defence.”

Kirby did not say who was in control at these rocket-launching sites but said threats to US forces in Iraq and Syria came from militia groups backed by Iran.

The Pentagon official also said that should NATO allies ask for more US capabilities in Europe, the US will be favourably disposed to consider the requests.

President Joe Biden has many options if Russia decides to launch another incursion into Ukraine, Kirby said while pointing out that nothing has been asked for yet.

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