Iran-Backed Shiite Militias Demand U.S. Leave Iraq

A supporter of the Shiite Huthi movement looks on during a gathering in the capital Sanaa, on August 24, 2017, to mobilize more fighters in the conflict against pro-government forces. / AFP PHOTO / STRINGER (Photo credit should read STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

A senior commander for the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) operating in Iraq, also known as Hashd al-Sha’abi, demanded American military forces leave Iraqi soil following the defeat of the Islamic State.

Hadi Al-Ameri, who is an Iraqi MP as well as a senior commander in the PMF, said he would introduce legislation to demand the U.S. pull out all its troops from the conflict-ridden country.

“We will adopt a parliamentary decision to pull out all American troops,” he told the Iranian propaganda network PressTV in an interview. “As for the role of international intelligence, we are only asking that they stop the influx of foreign terrorists at the time when we are exerting intelligence efforts.”

“We would like all international and Arab countries to be serious in halting the influx of terrorists into Iraq and Syria,” he continued, adding that he would not allow “one [American] soldier” to remain.

“The U.S. Congressmen have closed their eyes to what is going on in Iraq,” he was also quoted as saying after Congress proposed bipartisan legislation to impose terrorist sanctions the group. “We call on the U.S. military forces as well as its military advisors to leave our country as soon as possible.”

The U.S-led coalition forces have largely eradicated ISIS from its strongholds in the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa. Many analysts now fear that the PMF and other hostile forces may start a conflict against U.S. troops.

While the PMF includes some minority Turkmen and Yazidi militias, it is a majority Shiite Arab coalition with strong support from Baghdad.

Despite being active participants in the fight against the Islamic State, other PMF commanders have threatened to attack U.S. troops they refuse to leave the country, declaring that the United States “has become our direct enemy.”

Members of the U.S. military have previously praised the PMF for their contribution to the fight against the ISIS, although Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently urged the Shiite militiamen to return to Iran.

“Any foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain control of areas that had been overtaken by ISIS and Daesh that have now been liberated, allow the Iraqi people to rebuild their lives with the help of their neighbors,” Tillerson said at the time.

Multiple organizations, including Amnesty International, have reported on the PMF’s history of violating human rights, which includes claims of “enforced disappearances, abductions, torture, summary killings, and deliberate destruction of civilian property.”

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