On Sunday, January 5, the Iraqi Parliament passed a nonbinding resolution requesting that the Iraqi government expel American troops from the country, ending an agreement under which the US sent forces to Iraq to fight the Islamic State (IS) over four years ago. Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi has expressed his support for the resolution. The move comes after a targeted US drone strike killed Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani, deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and other senior Iraqi and Iranian officers near Baghdad International Airport (BGW) on Friday, January 3. Also, notably, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) has announced that it has suspended anti-IS operations in Iraq to refocus on force protection in expectation of Iranian retaliation for the killing of Soleimani.
Heightened tensions are to be expected in Iraq over the near term. Increased security measures are to be anticipated in Baghdad, including at Baghdad International Airport (BGW), over the coming days. Attacks targeting US personnel and assets remain possible as Iran has vowed revenge for Soleimani's killing.
The US Department of Defense released a statement on January 3 claiming responsibility for an airstrike targeting and killing Qasem Soleimani, the commander of Iran's Quds Force, near Baghdad International Airport (BGW) the same day. According to the statement, Soleimani was "actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region." Notably, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), was also killed in the strike. The situation remains fluid.
Individuals across Iraq are advised to closely monitor developments, avoid all demonstrations, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities and their home governments.
The security environment in Iraq remains complex. Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to all travel.