Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s media office has criticized meddlesome comments made by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson regarding the country’s Popular Mobilization Units or Hashd al-Sha’abi.
“No party has the right to interfere in Iraqi matters,” Abadi’s media office said in a statement on Monday, citing a source close to the prime minister.
Abadi made the remarks after Tillerson said Iran and all other countries currently helping Iraq in its fight against the Daesh terrorist group needed to leave the Arab country now that the battle was drawing to a close.
“The foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain control,” Tillerson said in the Saudi capital on Sunday.
Tillerson was speaking after a rare joint meeting with the leaders of Iraq and Saudi Arabia in Riyadh.
Hashd al-Sha’abi is an Iraqi state-sponsored umbrella organization composed of some 40 groups, which are mainly Shia Muslims. The force reportedly numbers more than 100,000 fighters. Iraqi authorities say there are between 25,000 and 30,000 Sunni tribal fighters within its ranks in addition to Kurdish Izadi and Christian units.
The fighters have played a major role in the liberation of Daesh-held areas to the south, northeast and north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, ever since the terrorists launched an offensive in the country in June 2014.