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Iraq Rejects Media Speculations on Extension of US Mission

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TEHRAN, May 21 (ICANA) - Iraq on Saturday categorically denied media reports that Baghdad is planning to strike a deal with Washington in August to keep 20,000 US troops in Iraq beyond the 2011 deadline.
Saturday, May 21, 2011 7:34:55 PM
Iraq Rejects Media Speculations on Extension of US Mission

"Thus far, we have not reached a deal with the US officials on this issue," Iraqi Government Spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh told FNA in Baghdad on Saturday.

"The issue is still under discussion and it will be decided in future," he added.

The Iraqi spokesman also underlined that any decision on the issue should first receive the approval of all Iraqi political factions, and continued, "All political streams should have a share in this decision."

The US military agreement signed between Baghdad and Washington at the end of November 2008 stipulates the withdrawal of all US troops from Iraq by December 31, 2011 as a deadline.

The US has pressed senior Iraqi officials to revise their decision on the US pullout and demand Washington to keep its troops in the country beyond their scheduled departure in the yearend.

Iraqi state officials as well as religious and political figures have all condemned the US attempts for extending the mission of its troops in the country.

Late in April, Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki announced that Iraq no more needs the US forces to protect its internal security, and underlined that his government will not bow to the pressures exerted on Baghdad to accept an extended US military mission in the country.

Senior Iraqi Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Kazzem al-Hosseini al-Haeri condemned the attempts made by Washington to prolong its military deployment in Iraq, and issued a Fatwa (religious decree) against the presence of the US forces in the country after the end of 2011.

"The extended mission of the infidel occupiers in Iraq even for one single day after the mentioned date (as cited in the security agreement) is haram (religiously forbidden)," the Grand Ayatollah declared in his decree.

Meantime, a ranking member of the Tribal Coordination Committee warned that Iraqi tribes will start an armed struggle against the US forces in case Pentagon extends the mission of its troops in the war-ravaged country beyond 2011.

Speaking to FNA on Wednesday, Saadoun al-Dulaimi announced that Iraq's tribal leaders have warned during their meeting on Tuesday that they, hand-in-hand with the Sadr Movement, would start an armed campaign against the US forces if the US military deployment in Iraq is extended.

The remarks by Sheikh Dulaimi came three days after a spokesman of the Shiite Sadr Movement in similar remarks underlined the necessity for the immediate withdrawal of the US forces from Iraq's soil based on the landmark agreement signed between Baghdad and Washington earlier.

"Our position is clear and transparent. The occupiers should leave Iraq's soil completely by the end of this year based on the agreement they have endorsed with our country," Salah al-Abidi told FNA on Sunday.

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