Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Friday, September 25th, 2020

Iraqi MPs to Meet on US Troop Ouster After Soleimani Killing

Iraqi MPs to Meet on US Troop Ouster After  Soleimani Killing

BAGHDAD - Iraq's parliament was expected to vote Sunday on ousting US troops from military bases, which are threatened by pro-Tehran factions after an American strike killed top Iranian and Iraqi commanders.
Late Saturday, missiles slammed into the Baghdad enclave where the US embassy is located and an airbase north of the capital where American troops are deployed, 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 precision drone strike that killed Iran's Major General Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq's Hashed al-Shaabi.
While no one claimed Saturday's attacks, a hardline pro-Iran faction in the Hashed, a network of Shiite-majority armed groups incorporated into the state, urged Iraqis to move away from US forces.
"We ask security forces in the country to get at least 1,000 meters away from US bases starting on Sunday at 5:00pm (1400 GMT)," said the Kataeb Hezbollah faction.
The deadline coincides with the planned conclusion of a parliamentary session on Sunday which the Hashed has insisted should see a vote on the ouster of US troops.
Some 5,200 US soldiers are deployed across Iraqi bases to train and support local troops to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State jihadist group.
They are deployed as part of the broader international coalition, invited by the Iraqi government in 2014 to help fight IS as it swept across Iraqi territory.
The Hashed, whose Shiite-majority factions have close ties to Iran, has vehemently opposed their presence for months.
- 'Post-humous victory' -
The 329-member parliament is set to meet at 1:00pm local time (1000 GMT) and while no agenda has been published, many lawmakers are pushing for a vote on the foreign troops.
"We either vote on the occupation forces leaving, or we remain subservient, robbed of our will and dignity," said Fatah MP Ahmad al-Kinany.
"Any parliamentarian absent for the vote on the departure of the occupier will have betrayed his country," he said.
While praying over Muhandis' remains in Baghdad on Saturday, Fatah head Hadi al-Ameri pledged to avenge him.
"Be reassured that the price of your pure blood will be the departure of American troops from Iraq, forever," he said.
US defence officials in Iraq told AFP in the hours ahead of the session that they felt apprehensive and nervous.
Already, increased tensions prompted NATO to suspend its training activities in Iraq and a US defence official told AFP American-led coalition forces would "limit" operations.
"Our first priority is protecting coalition personnel," the official said, saying surveillance had shifted from monitoring jihadist sleeper cells to watching for incoming rocket attacks.
As Saturday's rocket attacks unfolded, coalition planes were heard circulating above their bases in Kirkuk province, AFP's correspondent there said.
"What you have is America attacking an Iranian general directly, and groups are now openly fighting for Iran to avenge him. This is a direct war," she told AFP. (AFP)