Only hundreds of US troops will remain in Iraq: PM Kadhimi

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Khadhimi says only hundreds of US troops will remain in the Arab country following the pullout of half of them within the next few days.

“As a result of the ongoing strategic dialogue between Iraq and the United States, batches of American forces have been withdrawn within technical schedules during the past months. The withdrawal of more than half of those forces will be completed within the coming days,” Kadhimi said in a televised speech on the eve of the centenary of the Iraqi Army Day.

He added, “Only hundreds of them will remain, for cooperation in the fields of training, rehabilitation, armament and technical support. Their redeployment outside Iraq is scheduled entirely within agreements between the two countries.”

Kadhimi highlighted that the withdrawal of the US forces “was based on the readiness of Iraqi armed forces and security forces to protect the land of Iraq and preserve the dignity of people.”

The prime minister noted that Iraqi will not allow its territory to be the scene of regional or international conflicts.

“The Iraqi army is ready to fulfill its duty, and on the day of our brave army, we announce that 2021 will be the year of Iraqi accomplishments at all levels,” he said.

‘Iraqi independence will be completed with expulsion of foreign troops’

Separately, Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq movement, whose group is part of the Popular Mobilization Units — better known by its Arabic title Hashd al-Sha’abi — congratulated heroic Iraqi forces on the Army Day and called for the complete withdrawal of all foreign troops from the Iraqi soil.

“We stress the need for an end to foreign intervention in Iraq, which is an obstacle to Iraq’s right to assemble its own forces and build confidence to protect its territory,” Khazali said in a statement.

“We also emphasize that firearms must only be used by the security apparatus, and demand full sovereignty and independence of Iraq through the withdrawal of foreign troops from all parts of the country,” he added.

The comments came days after Iran and Iraq marked the first anniversary of the martyrdom of top Iranian anti-terror commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Popular Mobilization Units, along with their companions in a US terror drone strike authorized by President Donald Trump near Baghdad International Airport on January 3, 2020.

Angered by the assassinations, Iraqi lawmakers approved a bill two days later, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.

The Iraqi government has since been in talks with the American side over a framework for a pullout of foreign troops from the Arab country.

On the weekend, thousands of Iraqi mourners packed the streets leading to Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, condemning the American occupiers for the assassinations and renewing the call for them to withdraw from Iraqi soil.

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