TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - "To the US secretary of state, your military forces must prepare now to get out of our homeland Iraq immediately and without delay once the ISIS elimination excuse is over," Qais al-Khaz’ali, the secretary general of the League of Righteous, an Iraqi armed group fighting Daesh as part of Hashd al-Sha’abi, wrote on his Twitter page.
The statement came after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a Sunday joint press conference with his Saudi counterpart Adel al-Jubeir in Riyadh that Iran and all other countries currently helping Iraq in its fight against the Daesh terrorist group needed to leave the Arab country now that the battle was drawing to a close.
A day later, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's media office criticized Tillerson’s meddlesome comments, saying, “No party has the right to interfere in Iraqi matters.”
Hashd al-Sha’abi is an Iraqi state-sponsored umbrella organization composed of some 40 groups, which are mainly Shia Muslims. The force reportedly numbers more than 100,000 fighters. Iraqi authorities say there are between 25,000 and 30,000 Sunni tribal fighters within its ranks in addition to Kurdish Izadi and Christian units.
The fighters have played a major role in the liberation of Daesh-held areas to the south, northeast and north of the Iraqi capital Baghdad, ever since the terrorists launched an offensive in the country in June 2014.
Iran has been providing advisory military assistance to the central government in Baghdad and the regional government in the Iraqi Kurdistan, helping them both maintain ground and win back territory lost to the terrorist group in 2014.
On Sunday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also slammed Tillerson’s remarks, saying they had been uttered under the influence of petrodollars of certain states, Presstv reported.
“Exactly what country is it that Iraqis, who rose up to defend their homes against ISIS, return to?” Zarif said in a tweet late on Sunday, using an alternative name for Daesh.
“Shameful US FP (foreign policy), dictated by petrodollars,” he tweeted.
Daesh launched a terrorist offensive inside Iraq in 2014. It swiftly took over territory in the Arab country and posed a threat to seize Baghdad.