The US military does not need Iraqi permission to fly close air support and casualty evacuation missions for US troops in combat, a top spokesman for the US-led coalition fighting ISIS clarified on Tuesday.
Army Col. James Rawlinson clarified that the Iraqis do not need to approve missions in emergency circumstances after Task & Purpose reported on Monday that the US military needed permission to fly CAS missions for troops in a fight.
On Aug. 16, the US-led coalition announced it would comply with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi's order to ask for the Iraqi military's permission to fly in Iraqi airspace under other circumstances.
That order came after a recent explosion at an ammunition dump in Baghdad controlled by Iranian-backed militia.
Rumors have circulated that the explosion was caused by an Israeli airstrike.
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.
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.
Currently, about 5,200 US troops are serving in Iraq as part of the mission against ISIS, which has become an insurgency.