U.S.-led Coalition Says Halts Most counter-Islamic State Operations

Iraq's Sadr calls for 'humiliating' U.S. troop exit

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A U.S. military convoy arrives near Dahuk, Iraqi, Monday, October 21, 2019.
A U.S. military convoy arrives near Dahuk, Iraqi, Monday, October 21, 2019. Credit: AP

The U.S.-led coalition battling Islamic State in Iraq and Syria said on Sunday it has halted most of its operations against the militants for now to focus on protecting coalition forces and bases, amid soaring tensions with Iran.

A spokesman stressed that the U.S.-led coalition could still carry out some operations and would act in self-defense against the militants.

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Populist Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr said on Sunday a parliamentary resolution calling on the government to end foreign troop presence did not go far enough and called on local and foreign militia groups to unite.

"I consider this a weak response insufficient against American violation of Iraqi sovereignty and regional escalation," Sadr, who leads the largest bloc in parliament, said in a letter to the assembly read out by a supporter.

Sadr said a security agreement with the United States should be cancelled immediately, the U.S. embassy should be closed down, U.S. troops must be expelled in a humiliating manner, and communication with the U.S. government should be criminalised.

"Finally, I call specifically on the Iraqi resistance groups and the groups outside Iraq more generally to meet immediately and announce the formation of the International Resistance Legions," he said.