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SULAIMANI — US Secretary of State said on Friday (December 4) that his country supports Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in his “push” against Iranian-backed militia groups.
“We are standing with the Iraqi prime minister, my friend Kadhimi, in his push against Iranian-backed militias,” Pompeo said during a video conference organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
On November 20, Pompeo said that his country has been in Iraq for two things, to defeat Islamic State (ISIS) and buttressing the Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s government.
US extended a sanctions waiver to Iraq on November 20 to import gas and electricity from Iran for 45 more days.
Pompeo’s remarks came a day after US Ambassador to Iraq Matthew Tueller affirmed that some staff at US embassy will be withdrawn following rumors by several sides.
“I will continue to carry out my normal duties from the Embassy. I will do so with the support of a core team of American diplomats and U.S. advisors to the Iraqi military,” Tueller said in footage.
A well-formed person familiar with the decision deemed the move it as “de-risking” that will carry on after January 3 the coming year, the anniversary of assassinating an Iranian commander and affiliated an Iraqi Shia militia leader.
In May 2019, US started reducing its staff at US embassy ordering “non-emergency” government employees to leave Iraq because of the danger posed by rocket attacks following the assassination of the Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani on June 3, 2019. Since then, diplomatic facilities have operated with a smaller staff.
“It’s a minor drawdown based on security reservations from the US side. They could come back – it’s just a security blip,” one senior security source told AFP, claiming the drawdowns “are not a rupture of diplomatic ties.”
US officials usually accuse Iran-backed militias of projectile attacks on US complexes in Iraq, especially rockets attacks targeting Green Zone.
Tensions soared across the Middle East on November 27 after prominent Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed in a Tehran suburb.
Iran blamed Israel for the assassination raising the calculation that Iran and its proxies might take revenge on US and Israel diplomats.
In September, Washington, which is slowly reducing its 5,000 troops in Iraq, threatened to shut its embassy unless the Iraqi government reins in Iran-aligned militias that have attacked US interests with rockets and roadside bombs.
On October 11, a spokesman for Kataib Hezbollah, one of the most powerful Iran-backed militia groups in Iraq said it has suspended rocket attacks on US forces on condition that Iraq’s government present a timetable for the withdrawal of American troops.
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