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Iraqi lawmaker says expulsion of US forces from Arab country ‘national decision’

An Iraqi fighter of the Iraq’s anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) stands guard beneath portraits of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and deputy head of the PMU Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in Iraq. (Photo by AFP)

An Iraqi lawmaker says the expulsion of American troops from Iraq is a national decision, stressing that everyone understands the danger of their presence in the Arab country.

Speaking to Iraq’s Arabic-language al-Maloumah news agency on Sunday, Mehdi Taqi, member of the Security and Defense Committee in the Iraqi parliament, stated that the decision to expel foreign troops, particularly US troops, from Iraq is not a mere political decision, but rather a national decision made by representatives of all Iraqis in the Council of Representatives of Iraq.

On January 3 last year, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, Commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and deputy head of Iraq’s anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, were assassinated along with their companions in a US terror drone strike authorized by President Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport. 

Both popular commanders played key role in eliminating the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria. 

Two days after Washington’s assassination operation, Iraqi legislators approved a bill, calling for the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the US from the Arab country, which is currently home to some 3,000 American servicemen. 

“Our country does not need the presence of any foreign force whatsoever on its soil while our national forces are capable of warding off the dangers of terrorism and any external threat to the security and stability of Iraq,” Taqi further said. 

The lawmaker added that the presence of foreign forces, including those of the US, is causing numerous crises and problems in Iraq, noting that the landmark decision made by the Iraqi parliament demonstrated farsightedness in order to avoid major problems in the Arab country.    

Taqi also pointed out that “all Iraqis are aware of the danger that these forces will cause on the Iraqi soil, so everyone has agreed to expel them from the country in accordance with the decision by the parliament, which represents the voice of all Iraqis.” 

Last year’s US assassination of General Soleimani and Iraqi PMU commander Muhandis significantly raised the already present anti-US sentiment in Iraq and led to numerous popular protests across the Arab country against the presence of American troops. 

Iraqis chant anti-US slogans, mourn revered commanders  

Separately on Sunday, tens of thousands of Iraqis, while condemning the “American occupiers”, took to streets of Baghdad and converged on the iconic Tahrir Square to mark the anniversary of the US killing of General Soleimani and Lieutenant Muhandis. 

Demonstrators waved the Iraqi flag and chanted anti-American slogans, including “America is the Great Satan.” 

On Saturday evening, thousands of black-clad mourners also gathered on the highway that leads to Baghdad International Airport, where both commanders were assassinated, in a mock funeral procession staged in tribute to the two “martyrs” and eight of their companions. 

“We tell America and the enemies of Islam that they can inflict the greatest sacrifices on us, but we will continue to resist despite the bloodshed,” said a mourner. 

In November 2017, Soleimani declared the end of Daesh in a letter addressed to Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei. 

Last year, the Leader awarded Soleimani with Iran’s highest military order, the Order of Zulfaqar.  

US media reports revealed details of the assassination, saying the terrorist operation used Israeli intelligence and was run from the US Central Command (CENTCOM) headquarters in Qatar. 

Hailed both by friends and foes as a major military tactician, General Soleimani topped Foreign Policy (FP)’s 2019 list of Global Thinkers in defense and security. It placed General Soleimani on top of the list of the most influential people in the defense and security sector. 

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