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Mail delivery to military bases in Iraq temporarily suspended to clear backlog

See it: satellite images show rocket damage to Al Asad air base

New satellite images show damaged and destroyed buildings at Al Asad Air Base in Iraq. Iran fired more than a dozen rockets at the base and another target in Iraq as tensions with the U.S. mounted recently. No casualties were reported.

If you are trying to send a letter or package to troops in Iraq, you’re out of luck.

At least for the time being.

Starting today, the Pentagon has temporarily suspended deliveries to clear a backlog of mail flowing into that country.

“Mail transitioning through Baghdad Airport is temporarily suspended,” Jessica Maxwell, a Pentagon spokeswoman, told Military Times via email. “The temporary suspension of new mail (for entry or movement into the country) will prevent a further backlog.”

The Defense Department’s Military Postal Service Agency "is exploring options to reduce the mail backlog until normal mail operations are restored,' said Maxwell. “We are awaiting more information on when mail operations to and from the affected ZIP codes will be restored.”

The mail is backlogged because of a stoppage in clearing it to the country, a defense official told Military Times.

A U.S. Marine with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, assigned to the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) 19.2, stands post during the reinforcement of the Baghdad Embassy Compound in Iraq, Jan. 4, 2020. (Sgt. Kyle C. Talbot/Marine Corps)
A U.S. Marine with 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines, assigned to the Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force-Crisis Response-Central Command (SPMAGTF-CR-CC) 19.2, stands post during the reinforcement of the Baghdad Embassy Compound in Iraq, Jan. 4, 2020. (Sgt. Kyle C. Talbot/Marine Corps)

The mail suspension comes at a time when tensions in Iraq are running high. Last week, Iran launched a barrage of ballistic missiles at Al Asad Air Base and one in Irbil in retaliation for a U.S. drone strike on Quds Force leader Qassem Soleimani.

There are about 5,200 U.S. troops now in Iraq. And while the Iraqi parliament took a non-binding vote asking American troops to pack up and leave, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said that the U.S. will remain there.

Maxwell said while there was no timeline for when the temporary suspension will be lifted, “we hope the suspension will be short.”

According to the U.S. Postal Service, the affected ZIP codes are:

  • 09305, Baghdad Diplomatic Support Center
  • 09308, Besmaya Combat Training Center
  • 09333, Al Asad Air Base
  • 09348, FOB Union III
  • 09378, Camp Taji
  • 09381, Al Taqqadum Air Base
  • 96610-0800, SPMGTAF 2/7 DET9
  • 96610-1500, Task Force Spartan 20.1

“This temporary suspension means that if a person attempts to send a letter to one of the affected ZIP codes, it will not be accepted by the USPS,” said Maxwell.

The suspension is bad news for troop morale, said Mark Van Trees, whose Florida-based organization ships tons of donated goods to forward operating bases and combat outposts around the world.

“They look forward to getting our packages,” said Van Trees, director of Support the Troops, which has been shipping items to troops for the past 17 years. “For them, it is like getting a little piece of home.”

Van Trees said his local post master stopped by his Wesley Chapel office Monday morning with the temporary suspension news.

“This affects us a bunch,” said Van Trees. “We have been sending care packages to these bases since they opened.”

The packages, he said, include everything from toiletries to snacks to white tube socks.

“We send them to the FOBs and COPs because the troops can’t get this stuff,” he said.

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