The Iraqi government dismissed a call from U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for Iranian-backed paramilitary units that helped Baghdad defeat Daesh to end operations in Iraq.
Speaking after a meeting on Sunday with Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Saudi Arabia's King Salman, Tillerson said it was time for the Iraqi Popular Mobilisation forces and their Iranian advisers to "go home." Washington, which backed Baghdad against Daesh, is concerned Iran will use its expanded presence in Iraq and in Syria to expand its influence in the region. But Abadi showed unwillingness to meet Tillerson's demand.
"No party has the right to interfere in Iraqi matters," the statement from his office read. It did not cite the prime minister himself but a "source" close to him.
Trained and armed by Iran, the Iraqi Popular Mobilization forces often supported Iraqi government units in the fight against the militants who were effectively defeated in July when a U.S.-backed offensive captured their stronghold Mosul. They are paid by the Iraqi government and officially report to the prime minister, but some describes these militias as a de facto branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp.