Baghdad's Friday prayer leader Sayed Yasin al-Mousavi has called to put more effort into making US troops leave Iraqi territory.
“The Americans have to be ousted because they do not intend to leave by themselves. Only resistance can expel them”, the senior Iraqi cleric was quoted by the Iranian news outlet Press TV as saying.
He added that those who strive for “the continuation of the US presence in the region, and for no resistance to take place against it” are actually “seeking to delay the end of injustice over the world”.
According to al-Mousavi, it’s necessary to pray for the expulsion of US forces from Iraq.
The remarks come after Abdul Karim Khalaf, spokesman for the Iraqi armed forces' commander-in-chief said in late April that Iraq and the US will “discuss a schedule for the full withdrawal of American troops from the country during talks in June”.
Khalaf added that bilateral security operations, the military training of Iraqi forces, and exchange of experience will continue even after the US troop pullout.
"The US has significantly reduced the number of its troops per agreement with the Iraqi government as a gesture of goodwill. There is mutual understanding and positive signals”, Khalaf pointed out.
Iraq’s PM-Designate Pledges to Uphold Sovereignty as US Deploys Patriots
The spokesman’s statement followed then-Iraqi Prime Minister-designate, Mustafa al-Kadhimi vowing in mid-April to defend his country’s national security as the US was deploying additional weapons to Iraq.
The US initially refused to pull troops out of Iraq, despite the fight against Daesh* being all but finished, but later began relocating servicemen from smaller installations to larger bases and redeploying some of them to elsewhere in the Middle East, boasting success in the fight against jihadists.
While American troops left at least four bases throughout March and transferred them to Iraqi security forces, the US has also deployed two Patriot missile batteries and some other anti-aircraft short-range systems at two other bases.
The redeployment was preceded by the Iraqi parliament voting to expel all foreign troops from the country on 5 January. The move came shortly after a US precision drone strike killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani and an Iraqi Shiite militia deputy commander near Baghdad, to which Tehran responded by firing missiles at two Iraqi bases hosting the US-led coalition forces.
*Daesh ((ISIS/ISIL/Islamic State), a terrorist group banned in Russia and a number of other countries