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US troops targeting Iraqi forces instead of backing them: PMU chief

US army soldiers, part of the US-led coalition purportedly formed to fight the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, walk around K1 Air Base northwest of Kirkuk in northern Iraq before a planned US pullout, on March 29, 2020. (AFP Photo)

The chairman of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi has denounced the destabilizing role of US troops in the Arab country, saying the Americans are targeting Iraqi forces instead of supporting them.

Speaking on Tuesday, Falih al-Fayyadh urged the Iraqi government to call for an end to the US military mission as it had previously requested their presence, al-Ahed news website reported.

“The Americans are not a pro-Iraqi, but rather a dominant and occupying force,” he said. “The American forces currently present at their bases are combat personnel and their job seems to be inciting groups opposed to their presence in Iraq, which is a source of instability.”

“US troops are not fulfilling their duties to provide Iraqi forces with monitoring and intelligence support or equip them with weapons [but] are targeting Iraqi forces instead, including Hashd al-Sha’abi, especially the commanders of the Nasr” resistance group, he added.

In early 2003, the US invaded Iraq under the later debunked pretext that the regime of Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

It withdrew soldiers from Iraq between 2007 and 2011, but redeployed them in 2014 along with other partners to allegedly counter the threat from the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group.

Since then, Washington has been fabricating scenarios to prolong its presence in the country and causing insecurity there, dragging its feet on the withdrawal of all foreign forces under its leadership as part a law adopted by the Iraqi parliament.

On January 3, 2020, the US assassinated Iran’s legendary anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the PMU, in a drone strike authorized by former president Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport.

Two days later, the Iraqi parliament unanimously approved a bill, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.

In recent months, Baghdad and Washington have held several rounds of strategic talks on the pullout of foreign forces from Iraq.

Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman Ahmed al-Sahaf announced last month that the presence of US troops will be limited to “advisory and training missions,” and that foreign forces will be stationed outside Iraq according to a certain timetable.

However, US Central Command General Kenneth McKenzie said he had not been given any directive to withdraw, noting, “The government of Iraq wants us to stay.”

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