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Religious Leaders Ask US Withdrawal from Iraq on Anniversary of General Soleimani’s Assassination

Ninety-nine Iraqi religious leaders in a statement on the threshold of the first anniversary of the US assassination of former IRGC Quds Force Commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis underlined the need for implementation of the parliament’s approval on expulsion of the US troops from Iraq.

“The US and its President Donald Trump are well aware that the martyred commanders were a major barrier to the spread of terrorism in the region, but the US does not want stability in the region, specially in Iraq. They are well aware that the prosperity of Iraq and its growth and development is detrimental to their presence in the country. Therefore, it is very important that the parliament’s approval on the American troops’ withdrawal from Iraq, which was passe a year ago, be fully implemented and materialized,” the statement said on Tuesday.

“As the great religious leaders have stated the special role of the General Soleimani during the years of war against the ISIL terrorists in Iraq and the many hardships he had endured in this way will never be forgotten,” it added.

The Iraqi leaders stressed the necessity for safeguarding the achievements of the big victory against the ISIL by supporting the Hashd al-Shaabi (Iraqi popular forces) as guarantors of Iraq’s security, unity and might.

Lieutenant General Soleimani was assassinated in a US drone strike on Baghdad International Airport in Iraq on January 3, 2020.

The airstrike also martyred deputy commander of Iraq’s Popular Mobilization Forces Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The two were martyred in an American airstrike that targeted their vehicle on the road to the airport.

Five Iranian and five Iraqi military men were martyred by the missiles fired by the US drone at Baghdad International Airport.

On January 8 and after the funeral ceremony of General Soleimani, the IRGC Aerospace Force started heavy ballistic missile attacks on US Ein Al-Assad airbase in Southwestern Iraq near the border with Syria and a US operated airbase in Erbil in retaliation for the US assassination of General Soleimani.

Ein Al-Assad is an airbase with a 4km runway at 188m altitude from sea levels, which is the main and the largest US airbase in Iraq. Early reports said the radar systems and missile defense shields in Ein Al-Assad failed to operate and intercept the Iranian missiles. Unofficial reports said the US army’s central radar systems at Ein Al-Assad had been jammed by electronic warfare.

The second IRGC reprisal attack targeted a US military base near Erbil airport in Iraqi Kurdistan Region in the second leg of “Martyr Soleimani” reprisal operation.

Iraq said the attacks had not taken any toll from its army men stationed at these two bases. The US army had blocked entrance into Ein Al-Assad to everyone, including the Iraqi army.

The IRGC officials said none of the missiles had been intercepted.

Meantime, Iran announced in late June that it had issued arrest warrants for 36 officials of the US and other countries who have been involved in the assassination of the martyred General Soleimani.

“36 individuals who have been involved or ordered the assassination of Hajj Qassem, including the political and military officials of the US and other governments, have been identified and arrest warrants have been issued for them by the judiciary officials and red alerts have also been issued for them via the Interpol,” Prosecutor-General of Tehran Ali Alqasi Mehr said.

He said that the prosecuted individuals are accused of murder and terrorist action, adding that US President Donald Trump stands at the top of the list and will be prosecuted as soon as he stands down presidency after his term ends.

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