Sadrists oppose U.S. troop presence

April 25, 2011 at 12:52 PM
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BAGHDAD, April 25 (UPI) -- The presence of U.S. forces in Iraq after Dec. 31 would be considered a violation of national sovereignty, an Iraqi lawmaker warned.

U.S. forces under a bilateral status of forces agreement signed in 2008 are required to leave Iraq by the end of the year. Military planners and some Iraqi leaders are questioning whether some American forces should stay behind, however.

Karrar al-Khafaji, a lawmaker with the political movement loyal to anti-American cleric Moqtada Sadr, said his loyalists would use "all peaceful political means" to get U.S. forces out of the country as scheduled, the Voices of Iraq news agency reports.

He said his movement would view "the existence of a single occupation soldier on its soil as violation of its national sovereignty."

Parliamentary leaders in Iraq stressed Monday that any decision on the presence of foreign forces rested with the Iraqi government.

U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last week that Iraqi leaders need to decide quickly on whether to extend the troop deadline.

"Time is running short for any negotiations to occur," he said last week during a news conference in Baghdad.

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