Iraq, US discuss US-Iran conflict on Iraqi soil
Caretaker Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi discussed with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by phone the recent the US-Iran conflict in Iraq and the need to prevent escalation leads to open war, the Iraqi government said Friday.
"Iraq rejected and rejects all operations that violate its sovereignty, including the recent operation that targeted Ayn al-Asad and Erbil," Abdul Mahdi told Pompeo who made the phone call late Thursday night, according to a statement issued by Abdul Mahdi's media office.
"Iraq is exerting efforts and is contacting all parties to avoid turning Iraq into a battlefield," he said.
The Iraqi caretaker prime minister also asked Pompeo "to send delegates to Iraq to lay down mechanisms for implementing the Iraqi parliament resolution to withdraw (foreign) forces safely from Iraq."
"There are American forces entering Iraq and American drones flying in its sky without permission from the Iraqi government," Abdul Mahdi noted.
For his part, Pompeo promised to follow up on Iraq's concerns while affirming his country's respect for the sovereignty of Iraq.
The phone call came amid growing tensions between Iran and the United States on the Iraqi soil, which began late in December when a rocket barrage hit K1 military camp housing US troops in Kirkuk Province, leaving a US contractor killed.
The attack prompted the US forces to launch airstrikes on the Iran-backed Shiite militia of Kata'ib Hezbollah in western Iraq, leaving 25 killed and 51 injured.
On Jan. 3, a US drone attacked a convoy near Baghdad International Airport, killing Qassem 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.
Two day later, the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution requiring the government to end the presence of foreign forces in Iraq and prevent them from using Iraqi airspace and waters.
Early on Wednesday, Iran retaliated by launching ballistic missiles on military bases housing US troops in Iraq's western province of Anbar and near the city of Erbil, capital of the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan.
More than 5,000 US troops have been deployed in Iraq to support the Iraqi forces in the battles against Islamic State militants.