Led Coalition Denies Confrontation with Iran-Backed Militia in Iraq

Iraqi President Barham Salih on Monday Feb. 4 slammed comments by U.S. President Donald Trump in which he said he wants to keep U.S. troops in Iraq “to watch Iran.”

"We're going to keep watching and we're going to keep seeing and if there's trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we're going to know it before they do", he asserted.

The Shiite militia in Iraq alleged its fighters Friday prevented the American troops within the anti-IS coalition from conducting a field operation inside the city of Mosul.

"If they are slaughtered by the Turks within reasonable proximity to our leaving, it will be a stain on our honor of this country that will persist ... in our ability to attract allies to assist us in future projects of this kind", King said.

Baghdad's position has also been complicated by Trump's shock December decision to pull troops out of neighbouring Syria, prompting pro-Iran factions to step up calls for an accelerated USA withdrawal from Iraq.

"I want to be able to watch Iran", he said.

Trump has adopted a hard line on Iran, accusing it of sowing chaos across the region through its proxies in Iraq and other countries.

Tensions between Washington and Tehran have been high since Trump pulled the United States out of the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, and imposed crippling economic sanctions against Tehran previous year. But the SDF is "heavily reliant" on US military support and "unable to conduct offensive operations" that are "meaningful" without American air power, the report said. "We might as well keep it", he said.

In the CBS interview Mr Trump defended his recent decision to withdraw the 2,000 U.S. troops deployed in neighbouring Syria to support a Kurdish-led militia alliance seeking to capture the last pocket of IS territory there. The second attack ended with no casualties, with the Iraqi forces able to push the militants back.

President Donald Trump speaks to reporters onboard Air Force One on his way back to the White House in Washington from a weekend at his Mar-a Lago estate in Palm Beach Fla. Iraq’s President Barham Sali

But U.S. troops have no right to do that, said Iraqi President Barham Salih, adding that Trump's comments were "surprising".

"When I took over Syria it was infested with ISIS - it was all over the place - and now you have very little ISIS and you have the caliphate nearly knocked out", Trump said in the interview.

Those negotiations, he adds, have been based on the premise that Al Asad would be used to continue the fight against IS. Shiite-led Iran has strongly backed fellow Shiites who assumed power in Iraq after the 2003 USA -led invasion deposed a regime headed by minority Sunni Muslims under dictator Saddam Hussein.

Of U.S. troop activities, Votel said they are focused on liberating remaining ISIS territory in Syria, along the Iraq border-but affirmed U.S. troops are not "kicking in doors", but supplying artillery and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support. "We got to get out of these endless wars and bring our folks back home". His visit sparked outrage in Iraq when he failed to meet with any Iraqi officials. The base hosts American troops but belongs to the Iraqi army.

But Trump's planned meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi was canceled over a dispute about the location of the meeting.

That day, Afghanistan's Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah said the United States had not officially mentioned anything about reducing its military presence in Afghanistan, Khaama Press (KP) reported.

"With newly surfaced reports suggesting that Iraqi politicians are undertaking initiatives to force the troop withdrawal, Marandi told hosts Brian Becker and John Kiriakou that it's uncertain what response Trump's remarks will generate, given the fractured status of the Iraqi government".

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