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Iraq's Sadr urges US to withdraw 'occupying forces' after new Baghdad missile strike

Sadr made the comments after a rocket attack in Baghdad [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 June, 2020

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Just hours after four American soldiers were wounded in an attack on a military base in Baghdad, Iraq's popular Shia cleric urged the withdrawal of 'occupying' forces.
Prominent Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on the US to remove its "occupying forces" from the country, just hours after four American soldiers were injured in an attack on a military base in Baghdad.

The Shia Muslim cleric demanded Washington "withdraw its occupying forces from all countries, especially Iraq, in a manner the preserves peoples’ prestige and dignity".

"I think it's necessary for America to change its hostile and arrogant approach with its people first and the people of the world, second," Sadr said in a statement, addressing recent anti-racism protests in the US.

The comments came just hours after a rocket struck the inside perimeter of Baghdad airport, where US forces are deployed, in another attack against American interests in Iraq.

While a wave of similar attacks that began in October has since eased, the latest strike came three days ahead of US-Iraqi talks as part of a "strategic dialogue" including on future military cooperation.

A security official told AFP that the attack caused "no casualties or damage".

Baghdad International Airport is closed under coronavirus lockdown measures in Iraq, which has reported some 13,000 cases, including 400 deaths, from the disease.

Monday's rocket fire was the 29th such attack against American troops or diplomats since October. 

None of the attacks have been claimed, but Washington has accused armed groups, backed by its arch-enemy and Iraq's neighbour, Iran.

The US withdrew its forces from Iraq in 2011, eight years after leading the invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein and set off a bitter sectarian conflict.

Thousands of American soldiers were redeployed to the country from 2014 onwards as part of a coalition battling the Islamic State group.

In January a US drone killed Iran's powerful military commander Qassem Soleimani near Baghdad airport, sparking a new escalation in tensions between Washington and Tehran.

In response, Baghdad's parliament voted to expel all foreign soldiers from Iraqi territory, but the decision was never implemented.

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