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Iraq votes to expel US troops from country after Qasem Soleimani killing

Iraq’s parliament has voted to expel the US military from the country.

Lawmakers voted in favour of a resolution that calls for ending foreign military presence in the country.

The resolution’s main aim is to get the US to withdraw some 5,000 troops present in different parts of Iraq.
The vote comes two days after a US airstrike killed Iranian General Qasem Soleimani inside Iraq, dramatically increasing regional tensions.

The resolution specifically called for ending an agreement in which Washington sent troops to Iraq more than four years ago to help in the fight against the Islamic State group.

Late Saturday, a series of rockets launched in Baghdad fell inside or near the Green Zone, which houses government offices and foreign embassies, including the US Embassy.

Trump wrote on Twitter afterward that the US had already “targeted 52 Iranian sites (representing the 52 American hostages taken by Iran many years ago), some at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture.”

Trump did not identify the targets but added that they would be “HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”

The 1954 Hague Convention, of which the U.S. is a party, bars any military from “direct hostilities against cultural property.” However, such sites can be targeted if they have been re-purposed and turned into a legitimate “military objective,” according to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

After thousands in Baghdad on Saturday mourned Soleimani and others killed in the strike, authorities flew the general’s body to the southwestern Iranian city of Ahvaz.

Demonstrators also carried red Shiite flags, which traditionally both symbolize the spilled blood of someone unjustly killed and call for their deaths to be avenged.

On Sunday morning, tens of thousands gathered in the northeastern city of Mashhad to mourn the slain general.

Solmani is the first single person to be honoured with a multi-city ceremony.

Soleimani was the architect of Iran’s regional policy of mobilizing militias across Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, including in the war against the Islamic State group. He was also blamed for attacks on U.S. troops and American allies going back decades.

Though it’s unclear how or when Iran may respond, any retaliation was likely to come after three days of mourning declared in both Iran and Iraq.

Meanwhile, the US has dispatched another 3,000 troops to neighbouring Kuwait, the latest in a series of deployments in recent months as the standoff with Iran has worsened.

Protesters held demonstrations in dozens of US cities Saturday over Trump’s decisions to kill Soleimani and deploy more troops to the Middle East.

The US has ordered all citizens to leave Iraq and temporarily closed its embassy in Baghdad, where Iran-backed militiamen and their supporters had recently staged two days of violent protests in which they breached the compound.

Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has accused Trump of breaking international law with Friday’s attack following more threats by the President via Twitter.

The US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today defended the intelligence assessment that led the United States to assassinate the commander. While Democratic lawmakers questioned whether there was an imminent threat.

Mr Pompeo told ABC’s This Week: “The intelligence assessment made clear that no action – allowing Soleimani to continue his plotting and his planning, his terror campaign – created more risk than taking the action that we took last week.”

Britain and France have warned their citizens to avoid or strictly limit travel in Iraq, as London said it would begin escorting ships through the Strait of Hormuz.

More than 100 people have turned out to protest outside the US embassy in London.

Waving Iranian and Iraqi flags, the protesters chanted: “Donald Trump – terrorist” and labelled the US a “terror state”.

As well as Donald Trump, the chants were aimed at Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who were accused of “standing for terrorism”.

Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy said she is “really concerned” about the situation in the Middle East which she said “could escalate into all out war”.

She told Sky’s Sophy Ridge On Sunday: “I think this is a really dangerous moment for the entire world, and for Britain in particular. What we should see is a Prime Minister who, to be honest, should have already recalled Parliament to explain what his strategy is, how he’s going to try and work with our European allies to try and de-escalate the situation.”

Mr Raab also confirmed that he has a meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo next week.
He said any de-escalation should include a “route through this which allows Iran to come in from the international cold”.

Mr Raab refused to say if UK troops in the Middle East are in more danger.

Mr Raab has also claimed to have been in “constant contact” with Boris Johnson on issues of foreign policy while the Prime Minister has been on holiday.

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