Iraq passes resolution to expel foreign troops

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Midd le East Desk Report
BAGHDAD: Iraq’s parliament passed on Sunday a resolution telling the government to end the presence of foreign troops in Iraq and ensure they not use its land, air, and waters for any reason. The development comes in the backdrop of a US precision drone strike on Friday that killed Iran’s Major General Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi. “The government commits to revoke its request for assistance from the international coalition fighting Islamic State due to the end of military operations in Iraq and the achievement of victory,” the resolution read. “The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason.” Parliament resolutions, unlike laws, are non-binding to the government, but Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi had earlier called on parliament to end foreign troop presence. The move also follows an aerial attack on Saturday in the Green Zone on the Iraqi capital. Missiles slammed into the Baghdad enclave where the US embassy is located and an airbase north of the capital housing American troops, prompting US President Donald Trump to threaten strikes on 52 sites in Iran. The near-simultaneous attacks seemed to be the first phase of promised retaliation for the US airstrike. While no one claimed Saturday’s attacks, a hardline pro-Iran faction in the Hashed, a network of Shia-majority armed groups incorporated into the state, urged Iraqis to move away from US forces. Iraq’s Parliament called for the expulsion of U.S. troops from the country Sunday in reaction to the American drone attack that killed a top Iranian general. Lawmakers approved a resolution asking the Iraqi government to end the agreement under which Washington sent forces to Iraq more than four years ago to help in the fight against the Islamic State group. A pullout of the estimated 5,200 U.S. troops could cripple the fight against ISIS and allow its resurgence. The majority of about 180 legislators present in Parliament voted in favor of the resolution. It was backed by most Shiite members of parliament, who hold a majority of seats. Many Sunni and Kurdish legislators did not show up for the session, apparently because they oppose abolishing the deal. The vote came two days after a U.S. airstrike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani at the Baghdad airport, dramatically increasing regional tensions and raising fears of war. Iran has vowed revenge. Meanwhile. amid Iran’s threats of vengeance, the U.S.-led military coalition in Iraq announced Sunday it is putting the fight against Islamic State militants on hold to focus on protecting its troops and bases. The coalition said it is suspending the training of Iraqi forces and other operations in support of the fight against ISIS.