By Zehra Nur Duz
ANKARA (AA) – After Iran launched missile attacks early Wednesday on military bases in Iraq where U.S. forces are stationed, the spotlight is on the U.S. and foreign military presence in the country.
The attacks came in retaliation for last week’s U.S. killing of top military Gen. Qasem Soleimani, head of the Revolutionary Guards' elite Quds Force, along with Abu-Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy leader of the Iraqi Hashd al-Shaabi group, and eight others in a drone airstrike near Baghdad, Iraq’s capital.
Adel Abdul-Mahdi, Iraq's caretaker prime minister, notified the U.S. of an Iraqi parliament vote urging U.S. forces to leave the country.
Shia militia forces close to Iran also called for an end to the U.S. military presence in Iraq and threatened to target U.S. troops in the country.
Seventeen years after invading Iraq in March 2003 to overthrow Saddam Hussein’s regime, the U.S. currently has a total of nine military bases in the country.
Although the U.S. withdrew many of its forces from Iraq in 2011, it strengthened its presence in the country through military bases.
Roughly 5,000 U.S. troops have remained deployed in Iraq since the U.S. cobbled a coalition together in 2014 with the stated aim of fighting the terrorist group Daesh/ISIS.
The U.S. has two military bases in the capital Baghdad -- Camp Victory Army Base at Baghdad International Airport and al-Taji Military Base, which has been used for training Iraqi forces.
Washington also has two military bases in the western Anbar province -- Habbaniyah Air Base and Ain al-Asad Air Base, which were used actively during the anti-Daesh campaign in 2014.
U.S. troops also use Balad Air Base in the northern Saladin province.
The U.S. also has Qayyara Military Base in Mosul and the K1 Military Base in Kirkuk.
Harir Air Base, which came to the forefront after U.S. President Donald Trump's decision last year to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, is among the bases where U.S. troops are deployed in Erbil, the capital of Iraq's Kurdish region.
Harir is seen as very safe for the U.S. as it is located in an area where the Daesh/ISIS threat is less potent than other parts of Iraq.
The Harir base is also strategically important given that it is the closest U.S. military base to the Syrian border.
Another U.S. military base is located at Erbil Airport.
-UK, French military presence
The U.K. does not have military bases in Iraq, but It currently has 400 military personnel there.
The total number of U.K. soldiers and civilian personnel is estimated at around 1,400, including additional deployments made to combat Daesh.
France currently employs 300 military training staff in Iraq.