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Iraq’s Fatah says no hesitation over US troop expulsion as Pentagon chief visits Baghdad

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin stands next Major General Matthew McFarlane during his unannounced trip to Baghdad, Iraq, on March 7, 2023. (Via Reuters)

The Fatah (Conquest) Alliance in the Iraqi parliament says the country’s resistance and political groups agree on the need to expel all American troops, noting that this is a “definitive” and “national” decision rather than a factional one.

“Efforts continue at the public and political levels to wrap up the case of the presence of US forces on Iraqi soil. There will be no negligence or hesitation in expelling the Americans,” Fatah Alliance lawmaker Karim Aliwi told Iraq’s al-Maluma news agency on Tuesday.

The remarks came after Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin made an unannounced visit to the Iraqi capital of Baghdad.

The visit came just days before the 20th anniversary of the US-led invasion of the Arab country under the false pretext that the regime of Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

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

Iraq managed to end the territorial rule of the Takfiri outfit in the country thanks to the sacrifices of the national army as well as the anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), which had the backing of Iran.

However, Washington kept its forces inside Iraq in defiance of a resolution that required its withdrawal. The resolution was passed by the Arab country’s parliament in January 2020, following the US assassination of Iran’s legendary anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the PMU deputy head.

The US military declared the end of its combat mission in Iraq in December 2021, but it still maintains a number of troops there under the guise of playing an advisory and training role.

“Iraqi resistance, popular mobilization and political groups share a view on the expulsion of all American forces from Iraqi soil, and if this is not done, other ways to expel the Americans will be on the agenda,” Aliwi said.

He also urged the Iraqi parliament to implement the 2020 resolution on the expulsion of US military personnel.

“The continued presence of American forces is a violation of UN decisions. The expulsion of the US troops is not a decision by a certain political faction, but rather a national option,” the lawmaker said.

Austin’s Baghdad visit came two days after US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley paid an unannounced visit to Syria, where he met with US occupation troops.

Syrian Foreign Ministry strongly condemned “the illegal visit of the American chairman of the chiefs of staff to an illegal American military base in northeast Syria.”

Milley’s visit was “a flagrant violation of the sovereignty and integrity” of Syrian territory, the ministry said, calling on “the US administration to immediately cease its systematic and continued violation of international law and support for separatist armed groups.”

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