Hadi al-Ameri, the head of the political coalition, said on Saturday that the withdrawal of all American combat forces from Iraq was “a goal that cannot be negotiated,” Shafaq news agency reported.
He rejected as unacceptable the stay of American soldiers in Iraq under the guise of training or advisory missions and said, “Our sovereignty is a red line.”
“My message is clear to the US forces and the Iraqi government,” he said. “You should implement what was agreed. We do not accept any manipulation, fraud, or changes to missions,” he added.
“If the US forces choose to remain in Iraq, they must bear the consequences of this wrong decision… We do not tolerate even one foreign soldier, neither at Ain al-Assad base nor in al-Harir, neither for training nor for [giving] advice.”
Ameri said if the Iraqi government needed military trainers and advisers, it must devise a contract that clarifies their “whereabouts, numbers, and tasks.”
American occupation troops are required to leave Iraq under a resolution passed by the Arab country’s parliament on January 5, 2020.
It was approved two days after the US assassinated Iran’s anti-terror commander General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi, two influential figures in the fight against the Daesh terrorist group.
However, Washington has been dragging its feet on the troop pullout and targeting resistance groups from time to time.
Back in July, Washington and Baghdad reached an agreement on the American military’s withdrawal, under which the US would keep its troops on Iraqi soil under the guise of providing advisory assistance to the Iraqi military.
On Monday, the spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said American combat forces had completely pulled out of the Ain al-Assad air base in al-Anbar Province and only the so-called advisory forces had remained there.
Major General Tahsin al-Khafaji also said that in the coming days, an Iraqi security delegation would also enter the al-Harir base in Erbil province to accompany the US forces who will pull out of the base.
He said that the withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraq would be officially announced on December 31.
However, Kate’ al-Rikabi, a former member of the Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee, said that the US occupation forces were still present at Ain al-Assad.
Iraqis protest as govt. prevents installation of monuments
In a separate on Saturday, hundreds of Iraqis staged a protest against the government’s opposition to the installation of monuments commemorating General Soleimnai and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
The demonstration was held on the way leading to Baghdad airport, with the participants chanting slogans against the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.
A similar protest took place in the Iraqi capital on Friday night.