Iraq rejects US call for Iran-backed forces to end operations
October 23 2017 07:22 PM
Haider al-Abadi
"No party has the right to interfere in Iraqi matters," a statement from Haider al-Abadi's office read

Reuters/Baghdad

* Iraq rejects Tillerson comments on Iran-backed forces
* Iranian influence grows after Kurdish crisis
* Iran and Saudi Arabia in proxy war in Mideast

The Iraqi government dismissed a call from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for Iranian-backed paramilitary units that helped Baghdad defeat Islamic State and capture the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk to end operations in Iraq.
The paramilitary units have been expanding their reach to northern Iraq, supporting government forces which seized the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk one week ago in a lightning advance in retaliation for a referendum on independence.
Iraqi forces are deploying tanks and artillery just south of a Kurdish-operated oil pipeline that crosses into Turkey, a Kurdish security official said, the latest in a series of Iranian-backed operations against the Kurds.
Speaking after a meeting on Sunday with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Saudi Arabia's King Salman, Tillerson said it was time for the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation forces and their Iranian advisers to "go home".

Washington is concerned Iran will use its expanded presence in Iraq and in Syria to expand its influence in the region.
But Abadi showed unwillingness to meet Tillerson's demand.
"No party has the right to interfere in Iraqi matters," a statement from his office read. It did not cite the prime minister himself but a "source" close to him.
The international battle against Islamic State fighters in northern Iraq since 2014 saw the United States and Iran effectively fighting on the same side, with both supporting the Iraqi government against the militants.
Washington has 5,000 troops in Iraq, and provided air support, training and weapons to Iraqi government forces, even as Iran armed, trained and advised the Shia paramilitaries which often fought alongside the army.



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