Iraq PM tells Kurdish leaders he does not seek 'hostility' with US

Fighters with Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces wave Iraqi flags while mourners and family members prepare to bury the body of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis deputy commander of Iran-backed militias who was killed in a US airs

There are now 5,200 United States troops stationed at bases across Iraq, who were invited by the Iraqi government in 2014 to help combat ISIS militants in the region.

"America is a force for good in the Middle East".

Abdul-Mahdi and Iraq's parliament have called for American troops to exit the country following the killing, ordered by President Donald Trump, of the top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani outside Baghdad International Airport a week ago.

The disagreement over US troops threatens to upend the partnership between the two countries at a pivotal time and could even undermine their joint efforts to fight the terror group ISIS.

The prime minister said his country "rejects all violations against its sovereignty, including the barrage of ballistic missiles that Iranian forces fired targeting against United States troops in Iraq and also America's violation of Iraq's airspace in the airstrike that killed a top Iranian general last week".

"Any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how to best recommit to our strategic partnership - not to discuss troop withdrawal", spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said on Friday. The call for additional North Atlantic Treaty Organisation troops is one way of reducing the USA troop contribution without abandoning the space to either Isis or Iran.

Majidi argued to hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou that it will be "increasingly hard for Trump and his administration to justify the continued presence" of US troops in Iraq following the Iraqi parliament's call for them to be removed from the region and Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi's Thursday phone call with US Secretary of State to Mike Pompeo.

Washington is not willing to bow to Iraqi demands to withdraw its troops and any future discussions with Baghdad will be purely confined to the future structure of its forces in the country, the US State Department has said.

A photo released by the Iraqi Prime Minister Media Office shows Iraqi acting Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, praying at a condolence ceremony for Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Iran-backed militias in Iraq known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, at the prime minister's office in Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, Jan. 6, 2020. Furthermore, the Kata'ib Hezbollah militia in Iraq lost 25 members and dozens of others were left injured due to United States strikes carried out by F-15 fighter jets in late December.

"The State Department is ignoring Iraq's request to withdraw US troops-and it expects Iraq and other countries to pay for USA forces", said Bazzi.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said it was Iraqis who stood to suffer most from the U.S.

"The serious attacks and repeated violations of Iraqi sovereignty that occurred in recent days with the apparent weakness of the concerned authorities in protecting the country and its people. are part of the repercussions of the current crisis", said al-Sistani. "He doesn't want us to leave".

It remains to be seen what the USA will do in the coming weeks and months, as Iraq remains a strategic location for US military presence in the Middle East.

"He didn't quite characterize the conversation correctly", Pompeo said at the White House. The US also has many instruments to pressure the Iraqi officials, including waivers on sanctions against Iran. Ahmed Abdulsamad, Basra correspondent of Dijla TV station - owned by senior Sunni politician Mohammed al-Karbouli - was killed immediately while his camera operator succumbed to his wounds in hospital, a medical source told Reuters.



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