Iraq

Al-Sadr urges US forces to leave Iraq at once

shiite-muqtadasadr-300x202 Iraq’s senior Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr has urged US occupying forces in Iraq to leave the country as soon as possible. According to Al-Alam news network, the Iraqi top cleric made the remark in a statement on Friday. Al-Sadr further urged the US to stop its intervention in Iraqi internal affairs.The influential cleric also requested that the Iraqi government exert themselves to force the occupying forces from  the Iraqi soil. The United States announced on Saturday, January 16 that it will deploy 21,000 US troops in and around the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq despite the security agreement between Baghdad and Washington. According to the commander of US forces in northern Iraq, Anthony Cucolo, 21,000 US forces will be deployed in Kirkuk and Mosul early next month. Cucolo further claimed that the deployment is aimed at preventing what he termed “possible Kurd-Arab tension.” The deployment is contrary to a security pact, known as the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which was signed on November 17, 2008 by the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, and the then US ambassador Ryan Crocker. Based on SOFA, both sides agreed that US troops should pull out from Iraq’s urban areas by the end of June 2009 and be completely withdrawn from the country by the end of 2011.

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