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Iraqi groups reject talks with US, vow to step up resistance until full withdrawal

In this file picture, US soldiers stand guard at the K1 Air Base near the city of Kirkuk, northern Iraq, during a handover ceremony. (Photo by Getty Images)

A prominent Iraqi anti-terror group has reacted to the upcoming round of so-called strategic talks between Baghdad and Washington, whose key agenda item is reportedly the US combat deployment, emphasizing that armed resistance and operations against American occupation forces will continue until they are fully removed from the Arab country.

“The message that the occupying United States, its allies, supporters and subordinates need to comprehend is that the resistance is determined to extend its operations until the occupiers leave, and close all their military bases throughout Iraq, including in Kurdistan region,” Jawad al-Talibawi, a spokesman for Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq movement, which is part of the Popular Mobilization Units, wrote in a post published on his Twitter page on Saturday.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki lately said that the United States would engage in a “strategic dialogue” with Iraq this month.

The talks, which began last June under the administration of former US president Donald Trump, would be the first under President Joe Biden. On the agenda is an array of issues, primarily the presence of US military forces on Iraqi soil.

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi has told reporters he is approaching dialogue with Washington as a chance to push for the withdrawal of American troops. 

‘Negotiations futile, occupiers must leave Iraq’

Kata'ib Hezbollah, another Iraqi anti-terror group, dismissed the upcoming Iraq-US talks, which are scheduled for next week, as “futile and worthless.”

“Such negotiations are of no use because the Iraqi nation has made the decision to put an end to the presence of American occupiers. The Iraqi resistance will continue to put pressure on the United States, and has decided to cease this occupation,” Kata'ib Hezbollah's military spokesman Jaafar al-Husseini said.

‘US troops should fully withdraw’

Senior cleric and political leader Ammar al-Hakim also said Iraq's sovereignty will be complete once American occupation forces fully withdraw, underscoring that the United States should not have a permanent military base in the Arab country.

Speaking at a general assembly of the National Wisdom Movement in Baghdad on Saturday, Hakim said Iraq is currently at a critical juncture, and facing formidable challenges.

He said foreign occupation, sectarian strife, terrorism and destabilization of the country were the main challenges Iraq faced in the past years.

“The main challenge facing the country now is to safeguard existing achievements. Iraq's territorial sovereignty will be complete through the withdrawal of foreign troops,” Hakim pointed out.

The senior cleric said, “Iraq can overcome its challenges by adopting the three mottos of ‘No to Foreign Military Presence, No to Foreign Military Bases and No to Foreign Interference in Domestic Affairs.” 

Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill on January 5, 2020, which requires the Baghdad government to end the presence of all foreign military forces in the country.

The decision came two days after the assassination of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units, in Baghdad in a drone strike authorized by Trump.

It is estimated that there are currently 2,500 American troops in Iraq.

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