The leader of a powerful Iraqi militia group has lashed out at the United States for propping up the Daesh terrorist outfit in order to extend the stay of American troops in Iraq.
Qais al-Khazali, leader of the Asaib Ahl al-Haq group, said in a tweet on Monday that Washington looks at its own interests in Iraq before deciding whether to destroy Daesh or help it recover from the many defeats it has suffered in recent months.
Right now, he said, Washington needs the terrorist group to justify the presence of thousands of American forces in Iraq.
Over the past years, Iraqis have been able to recapture almost all of Daesh-controlled territories. With the Takfiri group on its last legs, Iraqi officials have been increasingly calling for an end to the US military presence.
President Donald Trump said this month that US troops need to stay in Iraq in order to “watch” Iran which has been key to helping the Arab country defeat Daesh.
The remarks drew a wave of condemnation, with Iraqi leaders saying they would not allow Trump to use their country as a launchpad for possible attacks and spy missions against neighbors.
“The Iraqi constitution rejects the use of Iraq as a base for hitting or attacking a neighboring country,” President Barham Salih said last Monday.
Salih said US forces were in the country under an agreement between the two sides, but that “any action taken outside this framework is unacceptable.”
Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s most senior Shia cleric, also took issue with Trump’s remarks, saying Iraq rejects serving as a platform to harm any other country.
He noted that Iraq aspires to have good and balanced relations with all neighboring countries, without interference in their internal affairs.
Iran, meanwhile, has made it clear that it would continue its advisory role in Iraq and Syria as long as their governments want.
“We will continue our presence in these countries as long as they want and will leave them whenever they do not want,” Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri said Sunday.