US military experts withdraw from Iraqi air base

Baghdad, May 11 (IANS): US experts and advisers for F-16 fighter jets withdrew from Iraq's Balad Air Base after a series of rocket attacks targeted the air base in Salahudin province, sources said.

"Up to 72 experts flew before noon by a military aircraft from Balad Air Base and headed to Erbil, the capital of the Iraqi semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan," an army source told Xinhua news agency on Monday night.

A Salahudin provincial security source also confirmed to Xinhua that the US team of experts withdrew from Balad Air Base, some 80 km north of Baghdad, and headed to Erbil.

Balad, which houses Iraqi F-16 jet fighters, is the largest military air base in Iraq.

Previously, the US troops also withdrew more than a year ago after the airbase came under a series of rocket attacks by unidentified militias.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said at a media briefing that "the absurd rockets do not target the Americans, because Balad Air Base contains Iraqi aircraft and Iraqi forces, and what is happening embarrasses Iraq".

The Iraqi military bases housing US troops across Iraq and the American embassy in the Green Zone have been frequently targeted by mortar and rocket attacks.



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