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International coalition to hand over new military sites to Iraqi forces

The US-led international coalition in Iraq, tasked with fighting the Islamic State (IS) terror group, will hand over new military sites to domestic forces, state-media reported.

"The international coalition still supports Iraq in fighting the terrorist IS group, and there are more than 61 countries participating in such support," the Iraqi News Agency quoted Tahsin al-Khafaji, spokesman of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC), as saying this week.

"The international coalition will soon hand over some of the sites agreed upon between the Iraqi government and the coalition under a timetable," al-Khafaji said without giving further details about the location of the sites.

According to the agreed timetable, several military bases were handed over to the Iraqi security forces in northern and western Iraq, al-Khafaji was quoted as saying by the Xinhua news agency.

"The government and the coalition are committed to the deadline for handing over the military sites, and there is high coordination in this regard," he said.

Baghdad and Washington have witnessed an increase in tension after the January 3 US drone attack near the Baghdad airport that killed Qasem Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq's paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.

The tension pushed the two sides to hold a round of strategic dialogues on June 12, during which the US confirmed that it does not seek permanent military presence in Iraq and that over the coming months Washington would continue reducing forces and discuss with the government in Baghdad about the status of remaining forces.

Over 5,000 US troops have been deployed in Iraq to support Iraqi forces in battles against the IS, mainly for training and advisory purposes.

The troops are part of the US-led international coalition that has also been conducting air raids against IS targets in both Iraq and Syria..