‘Iraq will adopt different approach in case US troops refuse to withdraw’

BAGHDAD (Agencies): Iraq will adopt a different position on the presence of US and foreign military personnel on its soil if the troops refuse to withdraw despite demands by Baghdad as well as a related parliamentary resolution and a million-man demonstration to that end, the head of an Iraqi parliamentary bloc says.

“The country’s sovereignty must be respected by all parties operating on the Iraqi soil, especially Amer-icans or the international coalition (purportedly fig-hting the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group). It is not ac-ceptable to allow violations that lead to the shedding of Iraqi blood,” said Hassan al-Kaabi, the head of the B-adr Organization’s parliam-entary bloc, in an exclusive interview with Arabic-language Baghdad Today news agency on Sunday.

“The government is required to take serious action following the recent aggression carried out by Washington to deal with the issue of the exit of foreign and American forces from the country through diplomatic channels,” he said.

“Washington or member states of the coalition are intransigent to leave Iraq, and insist on their stay without any legal permission. This will have negative and adverse repercussions on those forces,” Kaabi added. Iraq govt. must take position proportionate to US aggression: Hashd al-Sha’abi leader

In a related development, a leader of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), better known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi, called on the Iraqi government to take a position similar in kind to a string of airstrikes carried out by the US against multiple locations of army soldiers and PMU forces.

“The US bombing of the headquarters of Iraqi army and PMU besides a civilian airport sends many messages and is a clear declaration of American hostility toward Iraqi people, security forces and their sanctities,” Arabic-language al-Maalomah news agency quoted Adel al-Karawi as saying on Sunday.

“The current situation requires the Iraqi government to adopt a measure that would equate the US act of aggression, and does not refrain from condemnations and making damning statements.”

‘US staged strike on Camp Taji to justify assault on Hashd Sha’abi’

Separately, a member of the Iraqi parliamentary security and defense committee accused the United States of staging a false-flag operation against Camp Taji, which is located approximately 27 kilometers (17 miles) north of the capital Baghdad and houses US-led troops, in order to find a compelling justification for air raids on Hashd Sha’abi positions.

“The Iraqi government and the Joint Operations Command censured the repeated US aggression, but it is unlikely for the parliament to hold a session in this regard,” Abbas Sarout said in an exclusive interview with Iraq’s al-Ahad television network on Sunday. “Whoever struck Camp Taji is an unknown enemy, because neither resistance groups nor any other parties have claimed responsibility, and that the military base is protected by Iraqi security forces. The US targeting of security forces and the civilian airport in Karbala is considered to be a flagrant violation of the Iraqi sovereignty, which is condemned.”

“We do not rule out the presence of other parties, which aim to heighten tensions among resistance groups, US forces and neighboring Iran. It is perhaps a false-flag operation by American forces to find a justification for the destruction of infrastructure and storage facilities of Hashd Sha’abi forces,” Sarout said. The Iraqi military said in a statement on Saturday that 33 Katyusha rockets had been launched on Camp Taji.

Meanwhile, two of the three US troops wounded in the latest rocket attack in Iraq are seriously injured and are being treated at a military hospital in Baghdad, the Pentagon said on Saturday, in its first confirmation that Americans were injured.

Pentagon spokesman Hoffman declined to speculate on potential US resp-onses but, in a statement, cited Defense Secretary Mark Esper’s warning last week: “You cannot attack and wound American Service Members and get away with it, we will hold them to account.”