Iraq asks US to send delegation and set up mechanism for troop pullout

WION Web Team Baghdad, Iraq Jan 10, 2020, 10.54 PM(IST)

File photo. Photograph:( AFP )

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On January 5, the Iraqi parliament passed a motion calling for the expulsion of US troops, in the aftermath of the assassination of Iranian general.

Days after Iraqi Parliament approved the US troop pullout from the country, the caretaker premier, Adel Abdel Mahdi on Friday asked the United States to send a delegation to begin the process.

Mahdi spoke to US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo and requested that "delegates be sent to Iraq to set the mechanisms to implement parliament's decision for the secure withdrawal of (foreign) forces from Iraq."

During the call, Mahdi also objected to US forces entering Iraq and planes flying over Iraqi airspace.

On January 5, the Iraqi parliament passed a motion calling for the expulsion of US troops, in the aftermath of the assassination of Iranian general and the leader of Iraq’s Hezbollah militia by the US outside Baghdad airport on Friday.   

There are an estimated 6,000 US troops based in Iraq, whose primary function had been helping train the Iraqi military in anti-Isis operations, but their presence has become controversial.

The following day, US commanders sent a letter to their counterparts in Baghdad saying they were preparing for "movement out of Iraq." 

The letter said the coalition would "be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement".

The Pentagon said the letter was a draft sent by mistake but Abdel Mahdi disputed that account, saying his office had received signed and translated copies. 

He has demanded clarification from Washington of its intentions, while the US-led coalition said Thursday that it too was seeking clarity on the legal ramifications of parliament's vote. 

Many Iraqi lawmakers had been infuriated by a US drone strike on Baghdad a week ago that killed Iranian Major General Qasem Soleimani and top Iraqi commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, among others.

Days later, Iran fired a volley of missiles at Iraqi bases used by the US and other coalition troops, causing damage but no casualties, according to officials.