Washington said Iranian proxies in Iraq are pressuring US forces to push them out of the country, however, it asserted that the US presence in Iraq is legal by an official request from Baghdad, and any decision in this regard remains in the hands of the Iraqi government.

Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of US Central Command, said: “We are seeing pressure from Iranian-affiliated militant groups that want to push us out of Iraq, and the latest manifestation of that has been the use of small unmanned aerial systems, or drones. Some of them are very small, some are a little bit larger – all can be very lethal.”

Speaking at a special briefing via telephone, McKenzie noted that the militants “are resorting to this technique because they have been unable to force the government of Iraq to require that we leave.”

“So political pressure has not worked for them; now they’re turning to a kinetic approach,” he added, saying that the threat is concerning and stressing “we will take whatever measures are necessary to defend ourselves.”

“As always, we have a variety of measures there that we can defend ourselves, but just as in Afghanistan, the primary responsibility for defense of us – for defense of our forces and our NATO partners and everyone else who’s in there – the primary responsibility for that defense is with the Government of Iraq.”

Moreover, McKenzie highlighted his recent visit to both Iraq and Syria, revealing that he had met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi, and describing the meeting as “great.”

“We discussed the enduring defeat of ISIS, implementing security sector reforms, and other dynamics that affect regional stability. Our support to the Iraqi security forces continues to evolve as they expand their ability to plan and conduct operations independently,” McKenzie said.

“Today we have a relatively small US footprint in Iraq – all at the invitation of the Government of Iraq, all focused on advising, equipping, and assisting the Iraqi security forces,” he added, noting that the US focus today remains on completing the final destruction of ISIS.

“The Iraqi security forces are maturing. They’re getting better.”

Source » trackpersia