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Presence of foreign forces not acceptable in Iraq: Official

Iraq's Deputy Parliament Speaker Humam Hamoudi (C-R) meets with Ali Akbar Velayati (C-L), a senior adviser to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on international affairs, in Baghdad, February 17, 2018.

An Iraqi official has expressed his opposition to the presence of foreign forces in Iraq, saying they only aggravate problems in the war-stricken country.

Deputy Parliament Speaker Humam Hamoudi made the remarks in a press conference after a meeting with Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Leader of Iran's Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on international affairs, in Baghdad on Saturday.

Hamoudi said that only the parliament is authorized to decide on any foreign military presence.

"The presence of foreign forces in the Iraqi territory is not acceptable. This issue has been raised at the parliament and will be decided upon," he said.

Hamoudi also stressed that problems in the region should be resolved by the residents and that the presence of foreign forces worsens the situation. 

The victories over Daesh were achieved by the Iraqi people, and the presence of the Takfiri terrorist group or other outfits should not be used as a pretext for foreign boots on Iraqi soil, he added.

Velayati, for his part, hailed the strategic Iran-Iraq relations, noting that the Islamic Republic will spare no effort to develop bilateral ties.

He further emphasized that defending Iraq means defending Iran and vice versa.

Secretary General of Iraq's Badr Organization Hadi al-Ameri, who was also present at the press conference, said that Tehran and Baghdad share similar views on the security, economic and political challenges facing the region.

Daesh unleashed a campaign of death and destruction in Iraq in 2014, overrunning vast swathes in lightning attacks. Iraqi army soldiers and allied fighters then launched operations to eliminate the terrorist group and retake lost territory.

Last December, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the end of the anti-Daesh campaign in the Arab country. 

The photo taken on February 23, 2017 shows US Army soldiers standing outside their armored vehicle on a joint base with Iraqi army south of Mosul, Iraq. (Photo by AP)

However, the Pentagon announced earlier this month that the number of US troops in Iraq will remain at just over 5,000 for the foreseeable future.

“We are not signaling any significant drawdown in Iraq at this time,” said Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman. “We are shifting our focus from combat operations to training operations in order to ensure the lasting defeat of ISIS (Daesh).”

The US has been leading a coalition of its allies in a military campaign against purported Daesh targets in Iraq since 2014. The alliance has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians.

Iran has been providing military advisory assistance to Iraq in its counterterrorism battle at Baghdad’s request.

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