The U.S.-led coalition fighting ISIS suspended its operations Sunday as U.S. troops prepare for retaliation from Iran over the killing of Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
The Combined Joint Task Force for Operation Inherent Resolve, which is designed to stop ISIS expansion in Syria and Iraq, has stopped its mission to combat the terrorist group after repeated rocket attacks on coalition bases.
“As a result we are now fully committed to protecting the Iraqi bases that host Coalition troops,” it said in a statement. “This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations against Daesh and we have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review.”
The statement went on to say that the coalition will remain “resolute as partners” with those in Iraq who requested help in stopping ISIS.
“We remain ready to return our full attention and efforts back to our shared goal of ensuring the lasting defeat of Daesh,” the statement reads.
This suspension will leave 5,200 troops in Iraq and several hundred in Syria in defense mode instead of fighting ISIS, The New York Times reported.
The coalition’s decision comes after a U.S. contractor and several Iraqi security forces personnel died in attacks on Iraqi and American bases that the U.S. blames on an Iranian-backed militia. The U.S. launched a strike against the militia last week, sparking supporters of the militia to protest and storm the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad.
President Trump then authorized a strike that killed Soleimani, a high-ranking Iranian official. This led to Iran threatening retaliation and Trump announcing that the U.S. is prepared to strike back if that retaliation took place.
Iraq’s parliament also voted Sunday to expel U.S. military from the country after the death of Soleimani in an airstrike in Baghdad and the strikes to the Iranian-backed militia in Iraq.