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Iraq’s resistance groups say will not accept US military presence under any role, call for full withdrawal

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)
US soldiers wearing protective masks are seen during a handover ceremony of Taji military base from US-led coalition troops to Iraqi security forces, in Baghdad, Iraq, on August 23, 2020. (Photo by Reuters)

Iraqi resistance groups say they are adamantly opposed to a continued US military presence in their country in any shape or form, after President Joe Biden declared that the American combat mission in Iraq will shift to an advisory role by the end of the year.

The spokesman of Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada group, Kadhim al-Fartousi, said the talks between the Iraqi government and the Biden administration on the withdrawal of American troops are “aimed at legitimizing the US presence in Iraq.”  

Al-Fartousi added that "the Iraqi government made a grave mistake when it undertook the role of a mediator between the Resistance and the US,” in response to an agreement reached between Baghdad and Washington on the end of the US military combat mission in Iraq.

“By doing so, it (the Iraqi government) recognized the presence of US combat troops in Iraq," he added.

Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced an agreement on Monday, enabling the end of the US combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021, with the US president claiming American forces will, however, operate in the Arab country in an advisory role.

"Our role in Iraq will be ... to be available, to continue to train, to assist, to help and to deal with ISIS (Daesh) as it arises, but we’re not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission," Biden told reporters as he and Kadhimi met.

There are currently 2,500 US troops in Iraq, who Washington claims are focusing on countering the remnants of the Daesh terrorist group. Washington says the role in Iraq will shift entirely to training and advising the Iraqi military to defend itself, but the move is dismissed as a simple rebranding of the American occupation.

Meanwhile, the secretary-general of Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq resistance group rejected the Iraqi foreign minister's statement about the need for the US forces to stay. 

Qais al-Khazali said "the statement is rejected and does not reflect the reality of the capabilities the Iraqi forces have attained."

Speaking at a joint press conference alongside his American counterpart Antony Blinken in Washington on Friday, Fuad Hussein said Baghdad still required Washington's help, and called for maintaining bilateral security cooperation.

"We need to work with the International Coalition, led by the United States, against the terrorists of Daesh," Hussein alleged, adding, "We need cooperation in the field of intelligence. We need help with training. We need troops to help us in the air.”

Separately, Nasr al-Shammari, spokesman of Iraq's al-Nujaba movement, also opposed any US military presence.

Reacting to some politicians who are calling for the continuation of the US presence in Iraq, al-Shammari said, “Whoever demands a continued US military presence in Iraq aims to gain internal power through the foreign powers.” 

"US forces in Iraq did not provide an early warning against Daesh invasion, nor did they assist in confronting it," he added.

Meanwhile, a senior leader of Iraq's Kata'ib Hezbollah resistance group warned the US in case it fails to pull out its forces from the Arab country.  

"If the enemy does not explicitly announce the withdrawal of its forces and this is not verified in the field and by credible parliamentary national and security committees, the resistance will continue its operations in all positions until the last occupying soldier leaves Iraq,” Abu Ali al-Askari said.

The remarks echoed those of several other Iraq’s resistance groups that have voiced strong opposition to the US military presence in their country, arguing they do not accept the presence of US troops under any title such as advisers, trainers or anything else.

The resistance groups underline the need for the withdrawal of US troops not only from Iraq but also from the entire West Asia region, warning if the positions of the resistance forces, whether inside or outside Iraq, are targeted from these bases, American forces will undoubtedly be within the reach of the resistance’s counterattacks.

There has been a sharp increase in demands for the expulsion of US troops from Iraq, and the region, since Washington’s assassination last year of top Iranian anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units.

Two days after the January 3, 2020 attack, which was carried out on the order of then US president Donald Trump, Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill that requires the government to end the presence of all foreign military forces led by the US.


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