Iraq’s parliament votes to expel US military
Iraq’s parliament reportedly voted on Sunday to expel the U.S. military from the country after an American airstrike killed top Iranian military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.
Last week’s attack, which came on the heels of a number of other incidents between the U.S. and Iranian-backed militants, ratcheted up tensions in the region as Tehran threatened retaliation and Iraq protested the strike within its borders.
The nonbinding resolution passed Sunday demanded an end to foreign military presence in the country, with the aim of forcing the U.S. to withdraw 5,000 troops, according to The Associated Press. It declared an “achievement of victory” in stopping the Islamic State’s advancement in the country and ended its “request for assistance” from the U.S. in the fight.
“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 resolution read, according to Reuters.
Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abd al-Mahdi pushed for the measure, asking the parliament take steps to remove 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,” al-Mahdi told parliament in a speech Sunday, according to Reuters.
Most Shiite members of parliament backed the resolution, the AP noted, adding that many Sunni and Kurdish legislators reportedly did not attend the special session and are believed to oppose the measure.
The relationship between the U.S. and Iraq has become more strained over the last week, after the U.S. launched a strike in the country against Iran-backed militia members. The Defense Department said the attack was retaliation for a strike, allegedly by that militia, that killed a U.S. contractor.
Protests erupted at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad last week, with demonstrators storming the compound and chanting “Death to America” in response to the strike.
The president then approved an attack last week that resulted in the death of Soleimani, a high-ranking official in Iran, prompting Iran to threaten retaliation.
Trump responded to those threats by saying the U.S. would strike 52 Iranian sites, including cultural sites, which some U.S. politicians and the Iranian foreign minister have said violates international law.
Updated at 11 a.m.
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