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Iraqi Shia leader calls for scheduled pullout of US troops

“We will try to do our utmost not to throw Iraq into another war with the unjust occupier who perched on the chest of Iraq,” al-Sadr said.

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Iraq Protest
Supporters of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr protest against U.S. presence and violations in Iraq. PIC Credit : @Cropperboyce

Baghdad, Jan 24 : Iraqi Shia leader Moqtada al-Sadr on Friday called for a scheduled withdrawal of US troops from the country through peaceful means.

Al-Sadr made the call in a letter sent to a massive rally of Iraqis in al-Jaderiyah district, central Baghdad, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We will try to pursue all peaceful political, economic, social, cultural and popular means,” the leader said.

Tens of thousands of Iraqis, mainly al-Sadr’s followers, gathered to reject the presence of US troops in Iraq, in response to an earlier call by al-Sadr.

If the primary goal, which is to schedule the withdrawal of the US forces, is fulfilled, the peaceful means will continue until full withdrawal is realized, al-Sadr said in the letter.

He said full withdrawal can only be achieved by closing all American military bases on Iraqi soil, closing the headquarters of American security companies and ending their work in Iraq, and closing the Iraqi airspace to the military and intelligence flights of the US forces.

He also called on cancelling all security agreements with the US due to the absence of an international balance in them since concluded, and they were approved during the years of the American occupation of Iraq after 2003.

Referring to the sporadic attacks on facilities and military bases housing US troops, al-Sadr pledged a “pause of all resistance” until the withdrawal of the last American soldier from Iraq.

“We will try to do our utmost not to throw Iraq into another war with the unjust occupier who perched on the chest of Iraq,” al-Sadr said.

On January 5, the Iraqi Parliament passed a resolution requiring the government to end the presence of foreign forces, two days after an American drone attack on a convoy near the Baghdad airport killed Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.

Over 5,000 US troops have been deployed in Iraq to support the Iraqi forces in the battles against Islamic State militants, mainly providing training and advising.

Middle East

Iran ready for interaction, cooperation with Europe: Rouhani

He expressed the hope that under new EU representative the relations between the Islamic republic and Europe will improve.

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Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Tehran, Feb 4 : Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that the Islamic republic is ready for interaction and cooperation with Europe to settle nuclear deal-related problems, the official IRNA news agency reported.

Rouhani made the remarks while meeting with Josep Borrell, high Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, who arrived in Tehran on Monday for talks on a range of issues, Xinhua news agency reported.

Rouhani referred to Iran’s reduction of commitments under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA,) saying that Tehran is ready to re-embrace its vows if the Europeans help protect Iran’s economic interests enshrined by the JCPOA.

He expressed the hope that under new EU representative the relations between the Islamic republic and Europe will improve.

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Middle East

76 Syrian soldiers “neutralized” in Idlib: Akar

The Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, have been carrying out airstrikes in Idlib, the last stronghold of rebels in the war-torn country.

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Istanbul, Feb 4: Turkey’s Defence Minister Hulusi Akar said a total of 76 Syrian soldiers “were neutralized” and 54 targets were hit by Turkish forces in Syria’s northern region of Idlib.

“We continue our efforts and take additional measures to ensure the continuity of the ceasefires and the security of the troops,” Akar was quoted as saying by a written statement published on the ministry’s website on Monday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Meanwhile, the death toll in the Syrian artillery shelling in Idlib climbed to eight, including five Turkish soldiers, press reports said.

The Syrian government forces, backed by Russia, have been carrying out airstrikes in Idlib, the last stronghold of rebels in the war-torn country.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Turkey might consider launching a military operation if the bombardments in Idlib continue.

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Middle East

Erdogan meets Hamas chief in Istanbul over regional developments

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Istanbul, Feb 3 : Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan met with Islamic Hamas movement chief Ismail Haniyeh in Istanbul to discuss the latest developments in the region, local media reported.

The meeting took place on Saturday behind closed doors and lasted more than one hour, reported state-run Anadolu agency on Sunday.

US President Donald Trump recently revealed the details of his Middle East peace plan, dubbed as the “deal of the century”, Xinhua news agency reported.

The Turkish Foreign Ministry declared the plan as “stillborn” in a written statement.

“This plan is an annexation plan aiming to destroy the two-state solution and seize Palestinian territories,” the ministry said in the statement.

Erdogan also expressed his supports to his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas in a phone conversation on Friday, Turkey’s Directorate of Communications said.

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