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US military has to get permission before flying missions over Iraq

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US forces must now ask the Iraqi military for permission to fly in Iraqi airspace before coming to the aid of US troops under fire, a top military spokesman said.

However, the mandatory approval process is not expected to slow down the time it takes the US military to launch close air support and casualty evacuation missions for troops in the middle of a fight, said Army Col. James Rawlinson, a spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.

“In emergency circumstances, CJTF-OIR and the government of Iraq have a process to ensure there would be no delays in transporting injured service members to medical facilities or to provide force protection for any coalition troops,” Rawlinson told Task & Purpose on Monday. “For more routine flights, the Government of Iraq has visibility over all CJTF-OIR aviation missions, and we comply strictly with restricted airspace.”

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi reportedly ordered the new restrictions for Iraqi airspace following a recent explosion at an ammunition depot in Baghdad amid rumors that Israel had launched an airstrike against Iranian-backed militia fighters.

An Iraqi government spokesman could not be reached for comment on Monday.

The US-led coalition announced on Friday that it had, “Immediately complied with all directions received from our Iraqi partners as they implemented the prime minister’s order.”

Currently, about 5,200 US troops are serving in Iraq as part of the mission against ISIS, which has become an insurgency.

“As guests within Iraq’s sovereign borders, CJTF-OIR complies with all Iraqi laws and direction from the Government of Iraq,” the coalition’s Friday statement says.



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