Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) – Iraqi authorities denied on Saturday media reports that American trainers would be evacuated from an air base, north of the capital, Baghdad, over potential security threats.
In a press statement, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, stressed that all reports circulated on social media websites about the evacuation of U.S. contractors and security advisers from the Balad Air Base in Baghdad are “groundless”.
Rasool further added that Iraqi troops are responsible for “protecting all (U.S.) military bases and maintaining the safety of advisers.”
“We protect Iraqi military bases to ensure the safety of our fighters, as well as the safety of U.S. advisers and trainers, and other coalition forces,” the spokesman added.
Three Iraqi military sources told Reuters on Friday U.S. forces are preparing to evacuate nearly 400 contractors from the Balad military base over “potential security threats.”
The staff are working for Lockheed Martin Corp and Sallyport Global at the air base, which houses US forces some 80 km (50 miles) north of Baghdad.
The sources did not give any further details about the security threats but said around half of the 800 contractors on site would be evacuated, with one saying the operation would take 10 days.