A top Iranian official said on Monday that the US will still face attacks in Iraq, even if they “concentrate their troops more in the Kurdistan Region” claiming that Iraqi youth do not want foreign troops to be present in the country.
“If Americans want to concentrate their troops in the Kurdistan Region and northern Iraq, they will be dealt with the same as any other part of Iraq, for Iraqi youth do not want foreign troops to be present in their country,” Hassan Danaeifar told the semi-official Tasnim News Agency.
Danaiefar is Iran’s most senior economic official in Iraq, and is the former ambassador to Baghdad.
“Attacks on US military bases will continue,” he added.
Rocket attacks widely blamed by pro-Iran militias take place frequently across Iraq. Although the Kurdistan Region is considered safer, it is still targeted – with two attacks on Erbil in recent months.
Danaeifar’s statement came just a few days after Erbil International Airport was hit by an explosives-laden drone on Wednesday night. Rockets also hit Balad Air Base in Iraq’s Salahaddin province on Sunday night, injuring two members of Iraq’s security forces.
The US state department expressed its “outrage” over the Erbil attack.
Two people were killed following a rocket attack on the city in February.
“The Iraqis look at the Americans as invading and alien forces, and these forces are hated by the Iraqi people in different parts of the country,” Danaeifar added. “The United States has no choice but to withdraw its troops from Iraq.”
Iran-backed militias in Iraq have time and time again expressed their opposition to the US presence in Iraq.
Hours before the third round of strategic dialogue was held between Iraq and the US, Iran-backed armed factions affiliated with the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF or Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic), threatened to direct “large and precise strikes” against American forces in Iraq if Baghdad and Washington do not announce a clear deadline for the withdrawal of US troops.
Attacks on US forces had increased following the US assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad in January 2020, leading to a non-binding parliamentary resolution to expel all foreign troops from the country.
On April 7, PM Kadhimi said the “great development” in the capabilities of Iraqi forces had paved the way for the departure of nearly 60 percent of international coalition forces.
“This has enabled Iraq to move soon to the stage where there will be no need for foreign combat units in Iraq,” the PM said.
“The Coalition is in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi Government and respects the sovereignty of the government of Iraq,” Coalition spokesperson Colonel Wayne Marotto told Rudaw English on Sunday.
“Popular Mobilization Forces militias were established to support the Iraqi people’s fight against Daesh, but some have since devolved into outlaw militia groups,” he added, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State (ISIS).
Source » rudaw