Thursday, August 18, 2011

US attacks Iraq despite mission's end

PressTV--The American military acknowledges that it has launched two unilateral airstrikes in Iraq in June, almost a year after President Barack Obama declared an end to the U.S. combat mission in the country.

The spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq, Brigadier General Jeffrey Buchanan, said on Tuesday that the air raids had been carried out against militants targeting American troops, AFP reported.

This is the first time the U.S. army has acknowledged using air power to attack targets in Iraq since the American government ended its combat mission in the country in August 31, 2010.

Referring to the first U.S. strike against a group of militants attacking a U.S. base near the Basra airport, Buchanan said, “We had a team of Apaches (helicopters) up at the time. They identified the guy firing the rockets, they engaged and killed him.”

In the second airstrike, U.S. forces killed two militants who planned to explode a roadside bomb on the way of U.S. convoys, he added.

The confirmation may spark tensions between Baghdad and Washington because any unilateral U.S. military attack violates the security pact signed between the two sides last year.

Under the accord, Iraq would oversee security operations in its territory, with the U.S. forces only authorized to play a supportive role.

The comments by the U.S. military spokesman come a day after a series of bombing attacks in different Iraqi cities killed at least 76 people and injured over 180 others.

Bombings and other forms of violence have become an almost daily occurrence in Iraq as the U.S. government has made no secret of its strong desire to extend its military presence in the war-torn country beyond the December 2011 withdrawal date.

About 46,000 American troops are still stationed in Iraq while Baghdad has agreed to hold negotiations with Washington on the future status of American forces in the country.

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