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Iraqi factions divided over whether US troops stay

Despite strong opposition from influential Shiite factions ready to engage in military clashes with US forces, the Iraqi government wants an agreement with the United States to ensure that US troops remain in Iraq after the elimination of the Islamic State.
U.S. soldiers ride in a helicopter at a military base north of Mosul, Iraq, January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Stephen Kalin - RTX2XK7T

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is talking with the US administration to keep US troops in Iraq after the fight against the Islamic State (IS) is over, the Associated Press (AP) cited Iraqi and US officials as saying on May 5. US officials confirmed to the AP on condition of anonymity that the United States and Iraq agreed on the need for a long-term US presence aimed at warding off the threat of another armed rebellion. However, the growing polarization in the region and the tightening policy of regional rivalries are hindering the conclusion of such an agreement.

Commenting on these reports, the military media office of Saraya al-Salam, the military wing of the Sadrist movement, told Al-Monitor, “His Eminence, Commander Muqtada al-Sadr absolutely rejects the presence of any occupation forces — be they Americans or not.” Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist movement, had demanded in February that all foreign troops leave Iraq.

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