US-led coalition forces pull out of base in northern Iraq

The US-led coalition on Sunday withdrew from a military base in northern Iraq that had come under rocket attack in late December, sparking escalation between Washington and Iran.

The coalition handed over the K1 Iraqi Air Base in the northern province of Kirkuk, it said in a statement. It also transferred 1 million dollars of equipment to the Iraqis.

The K1 base is the third site the coalition troops have left this month. They already handed over al-Qaim base near the Iraqi border with Syria, and the Qayyarah West base.

"This long-planned move was coordinated with the Iraqi government. The [Iraqi security forces] are successful against [Daesh], Coalition troops will support from fewer places with fewer faces," coalition spokesman Myles Caggins said in a tweet.

Since 2017, the K1 Iraqi Airbase has hosted US and other coalition forces who train Iraqi security forces to fight DAESH/ISIS.

A rocket attack on the base in December killed a US civilian contractor and wounded several US service members and Iraqi personnel.

The United States blamed Iran for the attack and retaliated with strikes on Iraq that killed 25 fighters of the powerful Iran-backed militia Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces).

Another strike near Baghdad airport killed top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, a move that sparked fear of further escalation between Washington and Tehran.

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