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US forces to suffer heavy defeat if they refuse to leave Iraq: Hashd Sha’abi group

A senior official from Iraq’s Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq group, which is part of the country’s Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi, says his fellow comrades are ready to inflict heavy losses on American troops should Washington refuse to comply with a parliament decision demanding the withdrawal of all US-led foreign military forces from the Arab country.

“The resistance factions are completely prepared to inflict a great defeat on American forces if they go against the will of the Iraqi government and people,” Mahmoud al-Rubaye, a member of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq’s political wing, said in an interview with Russia’s RT Arabic television news network on Thursday.

He added, “I think the United States is afraid of direct confrontation with resistance groups, because it has a bitter experience of face-off with them.”

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Rubaye highlighted that Iraqi anti-US resistance groups are now much more developed and ready compared to the time before 2011.

The remarks came two days after influential Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr demanded that Iraqis stage a “million-man march” against the continued US military presence in the country.

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The march is needed “to condemn the American presence and its violations,” Sadr, who leads the largest parliamentary bloc, Sairoon, said in a tweet on Tuesday.

“The skies, land, and sovereignty of Iraq are being violated every day by occupying forces,” he added. The cleric, however, cautioned that such a show of popular disapproval should be a “peaceful, unified demonstration,” but did not offer a date or location for the proposed rally.

On January 5, Iraqi lawmakers unanimously approved a bill, demanding the withdrawal of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the country.

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Late on January 9, Iraq’s caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi called on the United States to dispatch a delegation to Baghdad tasked with formulating a mechanism for the withdrawal of US troops from the country.

According to a statement released by the Iraqi premier’s office, Abdul-Mahdi “requested that delegates be sent to Iraq to set the mechanisms to implement the parliament’s decision for the secure withdrawal of (foreign) forces from Iraq” in a phone call with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The prime minister said Iraq rejects violation of its sovereignty, particularly the US military’s violation of Iraqi airspace in the airstrike that assassinated Lt. Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, the deputy head of PMU, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, and their companions.

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“The prime minister said American forces had entered Iraq and drones are flying in its airspace without permission from Iraqi authorities and this was a violation of the bilateral agreements,” the statement added.

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