Muqtada al-Sadr meets with Iraqi Shia groups in Iran to discuss US withdrawal: report
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Iraq’s influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr reportedly met with representatives of Iraqi Shia groups in Iran to unite on the decision to expel American forces from Iraq, a spokesperson for one of the groups said on Monday.
Nasr al-Shammari, a spokesperson for the Al Nujaba Movement, was quoted as saying by Iraq’s INA that the groups met “to unite and coordinate forces to fully liberate Iraq from US forces.”
According to Shammari, Sadr had met with representatives of the Iran-backed Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, the Sayyid al-Shuhada Brigades, the Nujaba Movement, and Saraya al-Salam in the northwestern Iranian city of Qom.
#Iraq’s Shia cleric, leader of Sairoon political bloc, Muqtada al-Sadr, met leaders of mostly #Iran-backed armed groups within Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF) in Qom, Iran. Discussion inc ways to expel foreign troops in Iraq, acc to Nasr al-Shimmari (right of Sadr) from al-Nujabaa group. pic.twitter.com/VpIptVwKtI— Arwa Ibrahim (@arwaib) January 13, 2020
The developments come after Iraq’s council of representatives held an extraordinary session on Jan. 5 to vote on a resolution for the Iraqi government to expel American and foreign military troops in Iraq.
Kurds and Sunni Arabs did not attend the parliamentary session.
The session was held after an American drone killed the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s Quds Force Qasim Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the leader of the Tehran-aligned Kata’ib Hizbollah militia in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the United States has said it does not plan to leave Iraq, despite rumors suggesting otherwise.
On Jan. 7, US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, as well as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Mark Milley, told journalists that American forces were not leaving Iraq, contrary to a letter, ostensibly from a senior US military officer to his Iraqi counterpart, which circulated widely on social media and which suggested that US forces were redeploying within Iraq, in preparation for leaving the country altogether.