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Resistance leader: US not seeking to leave Iraq, threatening government

Qais al-Khazali, the leader of the Iraqi Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq resistance group, speaks in an interview with al-Ahad television network on November 24, 2023. (Photo via Twitter)

The leader of an Iraqi resistance group says the American occupation forces have no intention of leaving the Arab country and justify their illegal presence under the pretext of fighting the now-defunct Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.

Qais al-Khazali, secretary-general of Iraqi resistance movement Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq which is part of Iraq’s anti-terror Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi, made the statement in an exclusive interview with Arabic-language al-Ahad television network on Friday.

“The Americans do not want to leave Iraq, and when there is a government intention to expel them, they send threatening political messages,” Khazali said.

"Successive governments hesitate to remove foreign forces because of American pressure, and they justify their presence by fighting the terrorist Daesh," he added, stressing that, "Everyone knows that Iraq declared its victory over the terrorist group in 2017."

The leader of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq resistance group said there were “only 700 Daesh terrorists on Iraqi soil," and that the primary goal of the US-led military coalition was to “protect American national security, which is linked to the Zionist entity."

Khazali also underlined that Iraq does not need the presence of the US-led coalition forces to direct air strikes against the terrorist ranks of Daesh.

“Iraq is a strong country and possesses an army and expertise that most countries in the region do not possess, and it can easily build its own capabilities,” he said, adding, "Iraq does not need the presence of the international coalition to direct air strikes against Daesh terrorist.”

US presence in breach of Iraq constitution

Khazali also said in his exclusive interview with al-Ahad television network that the presence of US occupation forces violates the Iraqi constitution as the establishment of foreign military bases was not part of Iraq’s request for international assistance to combat terrorism in the Arab country.

“The American military presence violates the Iraqi constitution, and there is a play on words in Iraq’s request for assistance from the international coalition; the Iraqi request in 2014 included directing air strikes and providing intelligence aid but it did not include the establishment of military bases and the presence of combat forces,” Khazali said.

"The Constitution does not approve foreign bases or the presence of combat forces except with the approval of Parliament. The government does not have the right to approve the establishment of foreign bases and the presence of combat forces. If there is a government that gives approval, then it has violated its powers and will be held accountable," he added. "No government has given approval for the foreign military presence."

Khazali also censured frequent US attacks on Iraqi forces, saying, “There is no immunity for foreign fighters, and the aggressors must be held accountable in accordance with the provisions of Iraqi law.”

On March 19, 2003, the US and Britain invaded Iraq in blatant violation of international law and under the pretext of finding weapons of mass destruction, but no such weapons were ever discovered in Iraq.

While the United States claims it has ended its combat mission in Iraq, some 2,500 US troops still remain inside the Arab country. Pressured by the Iraqi people, US President Joe Biden and Iraq’s then Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi declared in July 2021 that the US mission in Iraq would transition from combat to an “advisory” role by the end of that year.

Anti-American sentiments have soared in Iraq over US military adventurism in the region, in particular since Washington’s assassination of the top anti-terror commanders of Iraq and Iran in the Arab country three years ago.

General Qassem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the second-in-command of the PMU, were martyred along with their comrades in a US drone strike that was authorized by then President Donald Trump near the Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.

The two iconic anti-terror commanders are greatly admired for their instrumental role in fighting and decimating the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group in the region, particularly in Iraq and Syria.

Two days after the dastardly attack shook the region, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill that required the government to expel all US-led foreign military forces from the Arab country.

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