The US-Led Forces Fighting ISIS Just Backed Off—to Protect Against a Potential Attack From Iran

Meanwhile, the Iraqi parliament voted to expel the thousands of US troops that remain in Iraq.

MPI10 / MediaPunch /IPX

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

The American-led coalition that has been fighting the Islamic State announced on Sunday that it will halt its mission in order to prepare to defend itself against a potential attack from Iran.

The decision comes on the heels of the US airstrike that killed Iranian Maj. General Qassim Suleimani, the nation’s top military commander, last week. While Suleimani’s leadership has been responsible for the death of hundreds of troops, President Donald Trump’s decision to order the strike has been viewed as an extreme measure and reportedly shocked US military officials. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has promised “harsh revenge” against US assets in the region in response to Suleimani’s death.

A statement from the American command announcing the pause in fighting pointed to repeated attacks on Iraqi and American bases over the last several weeks, including one on December 27 that killed an American contractor. “[W]e have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review,” the statement said.

This move is just one of the ways that Suleimani’s death has rearranged the chessboard across the Middle East. Hours before the coalition’s announcement, the Iraqi parliament voted to expel the thousands of troops that remain in Iraq in order to remove itself from an escalating conflict between the country’s two most important allies. The vote has no force to actually remove the troops, but it casts doubt on the future of the United States’ efforts against ISIS in the region when fighting does resume. The American military has also beefed up security around other bases and assets across the region.

The New York Times reported that the decision affects 5,200 troops in Iraq and hundreds more in Syria, who will now focus on building up defenses. This pause in operations could encourage the Islamic State, which has been weakened after years of fighting with the US-led coalition, to regain strength in ungoverned areas across those countries.

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. It's our first time asking for an outpouring of support since screams of FAKE NEWS and so much of what Trump stood for made everything we do so visceral. Like most newsrooms, we face incredibly hard budget realities, and it's unnerving needing to raise big money when traffic is down.

So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

IT'S NOT THAT WE'RE SCREWED WITHOUT TRUMP:

"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate