Iraqi lawmakers to push for parliament to expel US troops
Iraq’s parliament is set to convene an extraordinary session following US assassination of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis
Baghdad — Iraq’s parliament is set to convene an extraordinary session on Sunday where lawmakers told Reuters they would push for a vote on a resolution requiring the government to request the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
The session comes two days after a US drone strike on a convoy at Baghdad airport which killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
“There is no need for the presence of American forces after defeating Daesh (Islamic State)," said Ammar al-Shibli, a Shiite lawmaker and member of the parliamentary legal committee.
“We have our own armed forces which are capable of protecting the country,” he said.
Despite decades of enmity between Iran and the US, Iran-backed militia and US troops fought side by side during Iraq’s 2014-2017 war against Islamic State militants.
About 5,000 US troops remain in Iraq, most of them in an advisory capacity.
The militia were incorporated into government forces under the umbrella of the Popular Mobilisation Forces which Muhandis led.
Many Iraqis, including opponents of Soleimani, have expressed anger at Washington for killing the two men on Iraqi soil and possibly dragging their country into another conflict.
Since the killings, rival Shiite political leaders have called for US troops to be expelled from Iraq in an unusual show of unity among factions that have squabbled for months.
Hadi al-Amiri, the top candidate to succeed Muhandis, repeated his call for US troops to leave Iraq on Saturday during an elaborate funeral procession for those killed in the attack.
A vote to expel US troops would need parliament to pass a law obliging the Iraqi government to ask US troops to leave.
Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who is now caretaker prime minister after resigning in November under pressure from street protests, on Friday called for parliament to convene an extraordinary session to take legislative steps to protect Iraq’s sovereignty.
Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister said any decision to target the country‘s cultural sites would be a “war crime”, hours after US President Donald Trump threatened such action in a tweet.
“Targeting cultural sites is a WAR CRIME,” Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted in response to a post by Trump warning the US is targeting 52 sites in Iran and will hit them “very fast and very hard” if the Islamic republic attacks American personnel or assets.
Reuters and AFP
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