BAGHDAD (Dispatches) –
Resistance fighters will confront all U.S.-led troops in Iraq who seek to justify an overstay in the country, the spokesman for the political bureau of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, which is part of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) or Hashd al-Sha’abi, has warned.
Mahmoud al-Rubaie told the Arabic-language al-Maalomah news agency that weapons at the hands of Iraqi resistance fighters are the main guarantor and executive assurance for the implementation of the Iraqi nation’s demand and the parliamentary bill on withdrawal of foreign troops.
“All military forces affiliated with American occupiers must, therefore, leave Iraq,” he said.
“Any individual or faction that seeks to justify the continued presence of foreign forces will face an armed struggle staged by resistance combatants. The national Iraqi will and resistance groups will eventually drive foreign troops out of Iraq,” Rubaie stressed.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said on Saturday that the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces from Iraq confirms the ability of the Iraqi forces to maintain security and stability in the country.
“In a few days, we will witness the withdrawal of all combat forces of the international coalition from Iraq according to the strategic agreement with the American side,” al-Kadhimi said in his televised speech during a ceremony on the occasion of the centenary of the founding of the modern Iraqi state in 1921.
However, chief Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said that the number of U.S. troops in Iraq won’t change.
“Remember, this is a change in mission, right? Not necessarily a change in physical posture,” he said. “It’s not like today they snap the chalk line and all of a sudden there’s a massive change in the daily operations of our men and women over there.”
“There won’t be a dramatic shift from yesterday to tomorrow, based on how we’ve already been working ourselves into this new mission,” Kirby said.
There are about 2,500 U.S. troops and another 1,000 coalition troopers currently based in Iraq. It is unclear how many will remain in the next phase of deployment in Iraq.
In early 2003, the U.S. invaded Iraq under the later debunked pretext that the regime of Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.
It withdrew troops from Iraq between 2007 and 2011, but redeployed them in 2014 along with other partners to allegedly counter the threat of Daesh.
Iraq managed to end the territorial rule of the Takfiri terrorist group in the country thanks to the sacrifices of the national army and Hashd al-Sha’abi.
The Iraqi parliament unanimously approved a bill, demanding the expulsion of all foreign military forces led by the United States from the Arab country.
Since then, however, Washington has been dragging its feet on the troop pullout and targeting anti-terror groups from time to time.