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Iraqi MPs to meet on US troop ouster after Soleimani killing

BAGHDAD, Iraq — Iraq’s parliament is expected to vote today on ousting thousands of US troops from military bases, which are threatened by pro-Tehran factions after an American strike killed top Iranian and Iraqi commanders.

Late Saturday, missiles slammed into the Baghdad enclave where the US embassy is located and an airbase north of the capital housing American troops, prompting US President Donald Trump to threaten strikes on 52 sites in Iran.

The near-simultaneous attacks seemed to be the first phase of promised retaliation for the US precision drone strike that killed Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of Iraq’s Hashed al-Shaabi.

While no one claimed Saturday’s attacks, a hardline pro-Iran faction in the Hashed, a network of Shiite-majority armed groups incorporated into the state, urged Iraqis to move away from US forces.

“We ask security forces in the country to get at least 1,000 meters away from US bases starting on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. (1400 GMT),” said the Kataeb Hezbollah faction.

The deadline coincides with the planned conclusion of Sunday’s parliamentary session, which the Hashed has insisted should see a vote on the ouster of US troops.

Some 5,200 US soldiers are stationed across Iraqi bases to support local troops preventing a resurgence of the Islamic State jihadist group. They are deployed as part of the broader international coalition, invited by the Iraqi government in 2014 to help fight IS.

— AFP

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