• Monday, Oct 03, 2022
  • Last Update : 10:24 am

Military sources: US forces prepare to evacuate contractors from Iraqi base

  • Published at 04:23 pm June 22nd, 2019
Republican- Syria-US troops withdrawal
A line of US military vehicles in Syria's northern city of Manbij AFP

The US military denied any planned evacuation from the sprawling Balad base, which last week was hit by three mortar shells. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack

US forces are preparing to evacuate hundreds of staff working for Lockheed Martin Corp and Sallyport Global from an Iraqi military base where they work as contractors, three Iraqi military sources said on Friday.

Nearly 400 contractors from the two firms are getting ready to leave Balad military base, which hosts US forces some 80km north of Baghdad, over "potential security threats", they said, without saying what those threats might be.

The US military denied any planned evacuation from the sprawling Balad base, which last week was hit by three mortar shells. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack.

"There are no plans at this time to evacuate any personnel from Balad. Should there be increased threats to our people, the US Air Force will put measures in place to provide the protections required," Air Force Colonel Kevin Walker said in a statement.

A spokeswoman for Lockheed in the Middle East said: "We are not evacuating Lockheed Martin employees right now from Balad Air Base." She did not say whether any other evacuation was being prepared.

A military official with knowledge of the base's daily operations said earlier that the US military had informed Iraqi officials they would begin evacuating about half of the 800 employees who work for both companies at Balad.

The official said the evacuation would take about 10 days.

Two other military sources said the evacuation would take place in two stages and would be carried out by military aircraft.

"Americans informed us that they will only keep limited, necessary staff who work closely on the maintenance of Iraqi F-16 war planes." Lockheed Martin began delivering the first F-16s to Iraq in 2014.

The sources said the evacuation could start at any moment.

Regional crisis

Two other Iraqi bases hosting US forces have been hit by rockets in the past week in unclaimed attacks. On Wednesday, a rocket attack hit near a site used by US energy company Exxon Mobil near the southern city of Basra.

Local officials blamed Iran-backed Shia militias for the Basra incident. Iran has not commented on the Iraq incidents but has strongly rejected accusations by Washington that it was behind several attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf in recent weeks.

The uptick in violence comes amid rising regional tension between the United States and Iran.

Washington has ramped up sanctions pressure on Tehran since last year and several violent incidents in the Gulf have been blamed on the rising tension.

President Donald Trump on Friday said he had called off a US strike on Iran at the last minute.

In Iraq, Iran backs several Shia Muslim militias which have positions close to US military installations.

Those militias have not publicly commented on the recent incidents.

Sunni militant group Islamic State is also trying to stage a comeback in Iraq and has mostly used hit-and-run insurgency tactics against Iraqi forces in recent months.

50
Facebook 50
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail