Qais al-Khazali, head of the Iranian-funded Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, tweeted Monday night that US forces who are now in Iraq as part of the Global Coalition against ISIS must prepare to go home. Photo: Khazali twitter account
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A powerful leader of a Shiite militia group has asked the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to prepare to withdraw US forces from Iraq after the top American diplomat said “Iranian militia” in Iraq should go home as the war on ISIS is about to end in the country.
Qais al-Khazali, head of the Iranian-funded Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, tweeted Monday night that US forces who are now in Iraq as part of the Global Coalition against ISIS must prepare to go home.
“To the US Secretary of State: your armed forces have to prepare from this point immediately and without any delay to leave our homeland Iraq after the end of the ISIS-presence excuse,” Khazali’s tweet read in Arabic.
It is the latest response from the Hashd al-Shaabi and the Iraqi government following Tillerson’s remark on Sunday that it was time for foreign fighters, including Iranian elements of the Hashd al-Shaabi, to leave Iraq.
Ahmad al-Asadi, Hashd spokesperson, asked for an apology while calling the US remark unacceptable and baseless.
Another Hashd commander, Hadi al-Amri, urged Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi not to meet with Tillerson unless the American first issued an apology.
Abadi and Tillerson met in Baghdad nonetheless, their second meeting in two days.
Abadi told Tillerson that the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi is an official institution under Iraqi command and all its fighters are Iraqi.
“We have to encourage the Hashd because they will become the hope for the country and the region,” Abadi was quoted as telling Tillerson Monday evening.