Volunteers of Shia led Hashed Al-Sha’abi vow to defend Iraq, at the Imam Hussain shrine on Arbaeen today.
Iraq has not requested that any country send ground troops into its territory and will regard any such move as a “hostile act,” the country’s prime minister, Haider Al-Abadi, said in view of a US decision to deploy special forces in the country.
Iraq “will consider any country sending ground combat forces a hostile act and will deal with it on this basis,” Al-Abadi said in a statement published by the prime minister’s office on Thursday, adding that “the Iraqi government is committed to not allowing the presence of any ground force on the land of Iraq.”
“The Iraqi government confirms its firm and categorical rejection of any action of this kind issued by any country [that] violates our [Iraq’s] national sovereignty,”Al-Abadi also said in the statement.
Baghdad “did not request any side… to send ground forces to Iraq,” he added, thus refuting reports that the Iraqi government had called for deployment of foreign troops to help Iraqi forces fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).
Iraq does not need any foreign forces from any state or international coalition, it only needs weapons, ammunition and training from its partners and allies in the fight against IS, the prime minister’s statement says.
Al-Abadi’s statement comes after the US announced plans to dispatch special forces to Iraq to fight Islamic State, both in Iraq and northern Syria. On November 24, a US Combined Joint Task Force spokesman, Colonel Steve Warren, said that about 100 Expeditionary Targeting Force personnel would be sent to Iraq with some US senators proposing tripling that number, AFP reports.
Even though US President Barack Obama had repeatedly claimed that there would be no US “boots on the ground,” he eventually approved the deployment of Special Forces against IS.
It is still unclear how the Iraqi prime minister’s statement will affect US deployment plans, with US officials yet to comment
On a`related matter, Iran’s FARS News reports:
TEHRAN (FNA)- A senior Iraqi lawmaker blasted the Turkish government for impeding delivery of Russia’s military helicopters to his country.
“Turkey is preventing the delivery of eight Russian military helicopters to Iraq, because Turkey does not allow the Russian helicopters to fly over its territory,” the Russian-language website of Sputnik news agency quoted Ammar Tomeh as saying on Friday.
He noted that an Iraqi military delegation during a visit to Moscow last month presented a report to the Russian Government about this problem.
Tomeh said that the eight helicopters are to be delivered by Russia to the Iraqi army as part of the military agreements signed by the Russian and Iraqi governments.
In relevant remarks in late November, a senior Iraqi lawmaker said that the Turkish government has created problems in the way of Russia’s arms aid to Iraq.
“Turkey’s troubling the dispatch of Russian weapons to Iraq has strained the Baghdad-Ankara relations,” Khaled al-Assadi told FNA.
Al-Assadi said that the Iraqi government should make use of Iran’s military hardware as alternate to Russia’s.
The senior Iraqi lawmaker said that Tehran should do marketing for its weapons in Iraq and other regional countries.
The Iraqi Parliament’s Security and Defense Committee has accused Turkey of preventing the Russian helicopters from carrying weapons to Iraq.
The Iraqi parliament has, instead, called for handing over the Russian military choppers to Iran and from there to Iraq.
In early October, Chairman of the Iraqi parliament’s defense committee said Baghdad wants Moscow to have a bigger role in the anti-terrorist campaign in Iraq than the US and may soon officially request to start airstrikes on its soil.
“We might be forced to ask Russia to launch airstrikes in Iraq soon. I think in the upcoming few days or weeks Iraq will be forced to ask Russia to launch airstrikes and that depends on their success in Syria,” Hakim al-Zamili said.
“We are seeking to see Russia having a bigger role in Iraq… Yes, definitely a bigger role than the Americans,” Zamili said.
The Iraqi official added that the decision would depend on how efficient the Russian campaign in Syria will prove to be.
On September 30, Russia started carrying out airstrikes in Syria against the positions of the ISIL, a terrorist group originating in Iraq, which also grew a power base in neighboring Syria and launched a surprise offensive in Iraq, taking control of large parts of both countries.
Iraq is supporting the campaign by sharing intelligence with Russia through a communication center in Baghdad.
According to Zamili, the center’s role may be expanded to coordinate Russia’s future airstrikes in Iraq.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told France 24 in early October that his government would welcome Russian warplanes in Iraq.