In Rudaw

Spanish troops to withdraw from Besmaya military base in southeastern Baghdad

Spanish troops are planning to withdraw from a strategic Iraqi military base in southeast of Baghdad at the end of this summer, according to the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS) group.

In an official statement sent to Rudaw on early Wednesday, the US-led coalition announced the withdrawal of Spanish troops from Besmaya Range Complex, a military base in southeastern Baghdad province that is under the control of the US-led coalition.

“In the late summer, Spanish troops will be withdrawn from the Besmaya Range Complex, Iraq. The base is one of the Building Partner Capacity centers run by the US-led international anti-ISIS Coalition,” the statement reads.

The Spanish troops, alongside other coalition partners, have been providing training and military advice to the Iraqi security forces in their fight against ISIS from Besmaya Range Complex since 2015.

“Iraqi Armed Forces are getting better every day in their level of training and are approaching the definitive defeat of Daesh,” head of the Spanish contingent in Iraq, Col. Cesar Garcia del Castillo, told Spain’s King Felipe VI, during a video call earlier this week, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

According to the statement, Spain will keep 80 military personnel in Iraq to continue their current programming with the Iraqi security forces.

“Spain’s Task Force Toro will continue to operate in Iraq after troops are withdrawn from Besmayah,” the statement added.

Spanish troops form part of the US-led Global Coalition against ISIS, an 82-country alliance established as ISIS swept through Syria and Iraq in 2014. The coalition has primarily provided air support to Iraqi operations, as well as training and advisory support to Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

US forces have withdrawn from several Iraqi bases in recent months, which they say is part of a general repositioning in response to successes in the campaign to defeat ISIS and to protect personnel amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the space of a month, the US-led coalition has handed over control of six military bases to the ISF, including Abu Ghraib near Baghdad, K1 in Kirkuk, al-Qaim near the Syrian border, Qayyarah in western Iraq, al-Sqoor in Mosul, and al-Taqaddum in Anbar.

France decided to withdraw all of their military advisors from Iraq on March 25 amid the spread of coronavirus inside the country.

The UK withdrew all its troops from Iraq for the same reason on March 19.

ISIS views the withdrawal as an opportunity to spread its insurgency and has vowed to exploit drawdown of US-led coalition troops in Iraq, resuming hit-and-run tactics and torching crop fields.

At the height of its power between 2014 and 2016, ISIS seized control of vast swathes of Iraq and Syria, controlling over 100,000 square kilometers and running a complex bureaucracy as a self-proclaimed “caliphate.”

Although the group was declared territorially defeated in Iraq in December 2017, ISIS has continued to launch attacks, including kidnappings, assassinations, and ambushes, particularly in rural areas.

In its latest assessment, the Pentagon describes ISIS remnants are “regrouping and reforming” in Iraq and Syria, and able to sustain a low-level Insurgency, but are unable to hold territory. Source