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Iraq says no need for foreign forces amid US deployment plans

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi (Photo by AFP)

Iraq has rejected the need for the deployment of any foreign forces on its soil to battle the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group amid US plans to station a contingent of Special Forces there.

“We do not need foreign ground combat forces on Iraqi land,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday.

The Iraqi government “stresses that any military operation or the deployment of any foreign forces – special or not – in any place in Iraq cannot happen without its approval and coordination and full respect of Iraqi sovereignty,” he said.

The remarks came after US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Washington was sending an “expeditionary” group of its special forces to Iraq. He said the forces may also take part in operations inside neighboring Syria.

The Iraqi popular defense groups of Kata’ib Hezbollah, the Badr Movement, and Asaib Ahl al-Haq also reacted to the announcement by pledging to combat any US troops deployed to the conflict-hit country.

Fighters from the Iraqi Imam Ali Brigade, belonging to the Badr Organization, take part in a graduation ceremony near the city of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, February 26, 2015. (Photo by AFP photo)

“We will chase and fight any American force deployed in Iraq. Any such American force will become a primary target for our group. We fought them before and we are ready to resume fighting,” said Kata’ib Hezbollah spokesman, Jafaar Hussaini. Muen al-Kadhimi, a senior aide to the leader of the Badr Organization, Hadi al-Ameri, said, “All Iraqis look to (the Americans) as occupiers who are not trustworthy.”

Since June 2014, Iraq has been ravaged by terrorist attacks carried out by Daesh terrorist group, which has overrun parts of the country and is tyrannizing the civilian population there. The country depends heavily on the popular forces, which have effectively fought on the side of its Armed Forces in their battle against Daesh.

The rise of the group has been widely attributed, among other things, to the United States’ 2003 invasion of Iraq. The US has currently some 3,500 troops deployed in Iraq on alleged advising and assistance missions. Since August 2014, the US has been also leading a coalition that purports to be pounding Daesh positions in Iraq; the military coalition, however, has fallen severely short of dislodging the group.

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