Iraq has repeated its call for an end to the US military presence following a US drone strike in Baghdad that killed a senior member of Kataib Hezbollah, a Shia militia that’s part of Iraq’s security forces.
Iraqi military spokesman Yahya Rasool said the US “conducted a blatant assassination through an airstrike in the heart of a residential neighborhood in the capital, Baghdad, showing no regard for civilian lives or international laws.”
Rasool said that by launching the strike, “the American forces jeopardize civil peace, violate Iraqi sovereignty, and disregard the safety and lives of our citizens.”
The US-led international coalition based in Iraq is supposedly in the country to fight ISIS, but the presence is more about trying to counter Iran’s influence. Rasool said the “coalition consistently deviates from the reasons and objectives for its presence on our territory.”
The US claimed the Kataib Hezbollah commander they targeted was responsible for attacks on US troops. Since mid-October, US troops bases in Iraq and Syria have come under attack over 160 times in response to President Biden’s support for the Israeli slaughter in Gaza.
A January 28 drone attack that killed three US troops in Jordan led to the US launching heavy airstrikes in Iraq and Syria last Friday that killed around 40 people.
The Iraqi government has been opposed to all recent US airstrikes in the country and has been calling for an end to the US presence for months now. Rasool said the latest drone strike “compels the Iraqi government more than ever to terminate the mission of this coalition, which has become a factor for instability.”
The US and Iraq started talks on the future of the US presence at the end of January. But for now, the US appears determined to stay despite the risk of the situation escalating into a full-blown war.
In January 2020, Iraq’s parliament voted unanimously to expel US troops in the wake of the US drone strike that killed Iranian Quds Force Gen. Qasem Soleimani and PMF leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. But the US refused to leave and has significant economic leverage over Iraq, making it difficult for an Iraqi prime minister to kick US troops out.