The Iraqi government said on Sunday that it had resumed talks with the US on the future of the US military presence in Iraq amid outrage over US airstrikes in the country.
“The supreme Iraqi military commission resumed on Sunday its meetings with international coalition forces in Baghdad,” said Iraqi military spokesman Yehia Rasool. “Based on these meetings, a timetable will be formulated for a deliberate and gradual reduction leading to the end of the mission.”
The US and Iraq began the talks on January 27, but they were suspended after the January 28 drone attack that hit a secretive US base in Jordan, killing three US troops. Since then, the US has bombed Iraq several times, targeting the Shia militias it claims were responsible.
The Iraqi government has opposed all US airstrikes in the country and strongly condemned the latest, a drone strike that targeted a Kataib Hezbollah leader in Baghdad last week. Kataib Hezbollah and other Iraqi Shia militias are part of Iraq’s security forces.
In the wake of the drone strike, over 100 members of Iraq’s 329-seat parliament signed a petition demanding the expulsion of US and other foreign forces. According to The New Arab, Mohsen Al-Mandalawi, the speaker of Iraq’s parliament, has ordered the body’s legal and defense committees to discuss the petition.
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 Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. But the US refused to leave, and has about 2,500 troops in the country today.
The US is supposedly in Iraq to fight ISIS, but its presence in recent years is more about countering Iran’s influence. The US presence in Iraq also supports the US occupation of eastern Syria, where the US has 900 troops and backs the Kurdish-led SDF.