Abdul Karim Khalaf, spokesman for the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Army, announced on Monday that his country intends to take out the combat strength of the international coalition, while the latter’s work in Iraq will be limited to training, arming and advice tasks only.
Khalaf said, in a press statement, “the Iraqi government has prepared a mechanism to start removing American forces from the country”, without elaborating on them.
He added that “the work of the international coalition forces will be limited to advice, armament and training only, and his armed forces will leave”.
He pointed out that “the Iraqi government restricted the movement of the international coalition, land and air, and they are not allowed to move now”.
Khalaf added, “The Americans carried out individual operations without the knowledge of the General Command of the Armed Forces”.
The Iraqi spokesman described the recent American attack, which led to the death of the commander of the “Quds Force” Qassem Soleimani and the deputy head of the “Popular Mobilization Authority” Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis, as “folly that cannot be tolerated”.
He continued: “Soleimani was our guest; therefore, he cannot be targeted because his presence is an Iraqi affair”.
Khalaf pointed out that “the threat of sanctions by the US President Donald Trump is not correct, and the Iraqi government will cooperate with the Americans economically”.
He pointed out that “foreign countries rejected any supposed sanctions on Iraq”.
Soleimani and the engineer were killed, at dawn on Friday, by American air strikes in Baghdad, which sparked widespread anger in Iraq and Iran, and mutual threats between Tehran to retaliate and Washington to respond to any step.
In response, the Iraqi parliament voted by majority, on Sunday, to a resolution calling on the government to end the foreign military presence on the country’s territory, and to submit a formal complaint to the Security Council against the United States for “violating Iraqi sovereignty”.
In addition, about 5 thousand American soldiers are deployed in military bases throughout Iraq within the international coalition to fight ISIS.
For his part, the head of the caretaker government in Iraq, Adel Abdul Mahdi, confirmed, Monday, his country’s position on the withdrawal of foreign forces.
Abdul Mahdi said during his meeting with the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the United Nations in Iraq, Jenin Hennes-Blackshart: “The position of the Iraqi government after the recent security developments and its message to the House of Representatives and the Council’s decision to withdraw foreign forces from Iraq”.
He affirmed the keenness of “Iraq to continue its relations with the international community and that its relations be based on the exchange of mutual interests, respect for its sovereignty and non-interference in its internal affairs”.
Blashart offered her condolences and those of the United Nations Secretary-General for Iraq and its support for its security and stability.
On the other hand, Abdul Mahdi stressed that the United States is present in Iraq by an Iraqi decision and the withdrawal of its forces is an Iraqi decision as well, and it is in its interest that the Iraqi government be strong and not the opposite.
Abdul Mahdi said, while receiving the Chinese ambassador to Iraq, Zhang Tao that “America has contributed with Iraq to the war against ISIS, we do not want to become a party to any conflict, and we do not accept that Iraq becomes a platform for settling scores”.
He stressed that “China is a strong and important partner for Iraq and the agreement with China has become an issue of public opinion in Iraq, and our people clearly realize its importance and we will work to achieve it without hesitation, and we hope China will support us in all issues concerning Iraq internationally”.
The Chinese ambassador said during the meeting: “China will remain a close friend of Iraq”, adding that his country “strongly supports Iraq and pays attention to the development of relations with Iraq, which is a reliable partner for Iraq.
We will work to rebuild it, support the government and the Iraqi people, and put the agreement between the two countries into practice”.
He also expressed his hope to “enhance the role of Iraq in the Belt and Road Project, as we are keen to increase security and military cooperation”, stressing “the continued work of Chinese diplomats and Chinese companies and their presence in Iraq”.