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Iraqi parliament calls for US troops to be expelled —coalition suspends operations against ISIS

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Via CNBC

This handout picture released by the US Army shows U.S. Army Paratroopers assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, deploy from Pope Army Airfield, North Carolina on January 1, 2020.

CAPT. ROBYN HAAKE

The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution Sunday calling for the government to expel foreign troops from the country in the wake of an U.S. airstrike that killed a top Iranian general, raising questions about the future of the allied mission that has successfully fought the “Islamic State,” or ISIS, in recent years.

The resolution asks Iraq’s government to cancel the request for assistance from the U.S.-led coalition operating in the country against the “Islamic State,” which once controlled large swathes of Iraq and Syria before allied intervention.

“The government commits to revoke its request for assistance from the international coalition fighting Islamic State due to the end of military operations in Iraq and the achievement of victory,” the resolution read.

“The Iraqi government must work to end the presence of any foreign troops on Iraqi soil and prohibit them from using its land, airspace or water for any reason.”

The U.S.-led coalition announced Sunday it was suspending most operations against “Islamic State,” also known in the Arab world as “Daesh.” The coalition has shifted its focus to protecting Iraqi bases from attack by Iranian-allied militias such as Kataib Hezbollah, according to an official statement.

“As a result we are now fully committed to protecting the Iraqi bases that host Coalition troops,” the U.S.-led coalition said. “This has limited our capacity to conduct training with partners and to support their operations against Daesh and we have therefore paused these activities, subject to continuous review.”

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The Iraqi parliamentary resolution is non-binding on the government, but Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi urged parliament earlier on Sunday to take urgent measures and end the foreign troop presence as soon as possible.

“Despite the internal and external difficulties that we might face, it remains best for Iraq on principle and practically,” Abdul Mahdi told parliament in a speech.

The death of Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani in an U.S. airstrike Thursday night has enraged Shiite militias and their supporters in Iraq. The Baghdad government has accused Washington of violating its sovereignty.

The U.S. and Iran, though adversaries, are mutual enemies of “Islamic State” and effectively fought on the same side to crush the terrorist group’s de facto state in Iraq and Syria.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended the American troop presence in Iraq during an interview with Fox News, saying Abdul Mahdi was under pressure from the Iranians.

“The prime minister is the acting prime minister…he’s under enormous threats from the very Iranian leadership that we are pushing back against,” Pompeo said. “We’re confident the Iraqi people want the United States to continue to be there.”

The U.S. is deploying an additional 3,500 troops to Iraq, Kuwait and other parts of the Middle East as tensions escalate in the wake of Soleimani’s death. It’s unclear how the Iraqi resolution would impact those deployment plans.

— Reuters contributed to this report

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