BAGHDAD, Aug. 7 (Xinhua) -- Iraq on Saturday received the first delivery of 11 out of 140 M1A1 Abrams tanks nearly three weeks ahead of the deadline of combat U.S. troops withdrawal from the country.
|Photo taken on March 15, 2010 shows two M1A1 Abrams tanks. (Xinhua/AFP file photo)|
"Today, the first delivery of 11 U.S.-made Abrams tanks arrived in the Iraqi port of Um Qasir as part of an agreement signed last year with the U.S. to hand over the Iraqi army 140 tanks," Iraqi Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Mohammed al-Askari told reporters.
The delivery of U.S. tanks is part of preparations by the Iraqi forces to build a strong army to take over the security responsibility after the U.S. troops' withdrawal, Askari said.
The latest purchase of U.S. tanks would make Iraq the fourth Abrams operator in the region, joining Egypt, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia.
Earlier in the month, a U.S. military statement said that the new Abrams tanks would be used on the training site of Besmaya, a military base in Baghdad's southeastern outskirts.
The statement also said that the remaining 129 tanks will be delivered before December 2011.
The U.S. forces have pulled out of Iraqi cities and are working to formally end combat operations by Sept. 1 of this year, cutting the U.S. military force to 50,000, before the final withdrawal of all U.S.-troops from the country by the end of 2011, according to a pact signed between Baghdad and Washington in 2008.