FILE PHOTO: Iraqi PM Mohammed Shia al-Sudani © Bernd von Jutrczenka / picture alliance via Getty Images
Baghdad accused Washington of breaching its sovereignty with yet another summary assassination FILE PHOTO: Iraqi PM Mohammed Shia al-Sudani © Bernd von Jutrczenka / picture alliance via Getty Images
Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani has promised to launch a process to expel the international coalition forces from Iraq, after a US airstrike killed a high-ranking militia commander in Baghdad almost exactly four years after Washington assassinated Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in a targeted drone strike.
A US airstrike hit the headquarters of the Popular Mobilization Forces, an Iraqi state-sponsored umbrella organization composed of dozens of armed factions, on Thursday. At least two people were killed in the attack, including Mushtaq Taleb al-Saidi, the leader of Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba (HHN), which Washington branded a terrorist group allegedly backed by Iran.
“The Popular Mobilization Forces represent an official presence affiliated with the state, subject to it, and an integral part of our armed forces,” the Iraqi PM stated on Friday. “We condemn the attacks targeting our security forces, which go beyond the spirit and letter of the mandate that created the international coalition.”
The Pentagon insisted that Baghdad itself had invited the American forces to help fight the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) terrorist group, and some 2,500 troops who are still in the country a decade later are free to act in “self-defense,” especially amid recent attacks on its outposts. Press secretary Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder defended the January 4 strike as a “necessary, proportionate act.”
Baghdad has argued that the time has come to review the terms of that invitation, with al-Sudani promising to “start the dialogue through the bilateral committee that was formed to determine the arrangements for the end of this presence.”
“We affirm our principled position in ending the existence of the international coalition after the justifications for its existence have ended,” he added, emphasizing that Baghdad seeks to restore full “national sovereignty over the land, sky, and waters of Iraq.”
American military bases in Iraq, as well as illegal outposts in neighboring Syria, have come under drone and missile strikes on more than 110 occasions since October, amid regional tensions stemming from the Israeli war in Gaza. Most of the attacks were carried out by unidentified parties, but Washington has accused Tehran of pulling the strings behind the scenes and reserved the right to retaliate as it deems fit.
“We have repeatedly emphasized that in the event of a violation or transgression by any Iraqi party, or if Iraqi law is violated, the Iraqi government is the only party that has the right to follow up on the merits of these violations,” the Iraqi PM argued. He accused Washington of routinely violating Iraq’s sovereignty, recalling another “heinous act” committed by the American administration four years ago.
General Qassem Soleimani, a revered figure in Iran, was killed in a US drone strike authorized by former US President Donald Trump in Baghdad, Iraq on January 3, 2020. Back then Washington claimed that Soleimani was planning an “imminent” attack on US forces. On the fourth anniversary of his death, two explosions ripped through a memorial in Iran killing nearly 100 people and injuring hundreds more. IS terrorists swiftly claimed responsibility for the atrocity in a Telegram post, while the US has insisted that Washington played no role in the bombings. (RT)
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