BAGHDAD (Reuters) – The Iraqi government is forming a committee to prepare for the closure of the U.S.-led international coalition’s mission in the country, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s office said on Friday.
Sudani’s statement came a day after a U.S. strike killed a militia leader in Baghdad, angering Iran-aligned groups who demanded the government end the coalition’s presence in Iraq.
“The government sets the date for the start of the bilateral committee tasked with making arrangements to permanently end the presence of international coalition forces in Iraq,” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office.
The committee would include representatives of the military coalition, a government official said.
The US military launched a strike on Thursday in retaliation for recent attacks on US personnel, the Pentagon said.
The United States has 900 troops in Syria and 2,500 in Iraq for a mission it says is aimed at advising and assisting local forces trying to prevent a resurgence of the Islamic State, which has seized a large part of the two countries in 2014 before being defeated.
Iran-aligned militias in Iraq and Syria oppose Israel’s campaign in the Gaza Strip and hold the United States partly responsible.
Soudani has limited control over some Iran-backed factions, whose support he needed to seize power a year ago and who now form a powerful bloc within his governing coalition.
“We emphasize our firm stance aimed at ending the existence of the international coalition once the justifications for its existence disappear,” Soudani said in the statement.
Islamic State on Thursday claimed responsibility for two explosions in Iran that killed nearly 100 people and injured scores at the memorial to Commander-in-Chief Qassem Soleimani.
(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed; writing by Tala Ramadan; editing by Nick Macfie)
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