Countdown for U.S. expulsion from region has begun, says Shamkhani

March 9, 2020 - 2:9

TEHRAN — Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council (SNSC), has said countdown has begun for the expulsion of U.S. forces from the region.

Shamkhani made the remarks in a meeting with Chief of Iraq's Intelligence Service (IIS) Mustafa al-Kazemi in Baghdad on Sunday.

“Assassinating generals of the Axis of Resistance, Marty Haj Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muahdis, was the result of a strategic mistake by Trump and the evil team in the White House. The countdown for the expulsion of America from the region began the early morning of Friday, Jan. 3,” Shamkhani said.

Shamkhani's trip to Baghdad comes in the wake of the U.S. assassination of Iran’s top anti-terror commander General Qassemi Soleimani and his Iraqi trenchmate Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Baghdad.  

General Soleimani was in Baghdad at the invitation of the Iraqi government when he was targeted in Baghdad’s international airport on January 3. 

The terrorist act led to a crisis in diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Iraq, which demanded that the American troops leave the country. 

The Trump administration has been defiant and instead threatened to seize Iraq's oil money being held in a bank account in New York as compensation for its military presence in the Arab country.

Meanwhile, some individuals in Iraq's intelligence agency have been implicated in the assassination. It is not clear if the issue will feature in the Iranian security official's talks in Baghdad.

Shamkhani has traveled to Iraq to exchange views with Iraqi officials on security and political issues. He arrived in Baghdad on Saturday night, heading a high-ranking delegation.

Upon arrival, he said he would hold talks with Iraqi President Barham Salih, caretaker Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, Parliament Speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi and leaders from different political factions.

In a Sunday joint press conference with Iraq's National Security Adviser and the head of the PMU Falih al-Fayadh in Baghdad, Shamkhani hailed the two countries' efforts to drive the U.S. out of the region.

“Measures taken by the Iraqi government, parliament, and nation, who have demanded to oust U.S. forces in their huge rallies, deserve gratitude,” Shamkhani said, according to Mehr.

He also referred to the Zionist regime as the enemy of regional peace and security, hoping that Iraq will be able to bring back stability and security to its territory.

Shamkhani said that in his meeting with al-Fayadh, they have discussed regional and security affairs with a focus on the role of Iraq in such issues.

Calling for expansion of bilateral ties with Iran, al-Fayadh, for his part, said Iraqis will never forget Iran's anti-Daesh measures and efforts.

Iran has maintained brotherly relations with neighboring Iraq since the ouster of former dictator Saddam Hussein in 2003, Press TV quoted him as saying.

In 2014, when Daesh (ISIL) unleashed its campaign of terror in Iraq, Iranian military advisers rushed to the aid of Iraqi armed forces on Baghdad’s request, helping them gradually reverse the Takfiri terrorist group’s gains and ultimately liberate their entire homeland some three years later.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Shamkhani referred to the outbreak of a new coronavirus in the region, saying that both facts and rumors were spreading about the epidemic.

The fact is that the Islamic Republic is in possession of abundant resources and will score a victory over the epidemic, he noted.

The virus, known as COVID-19, first emerged in China late last year and is now spreading in Europe and across the Middle East, sparking fears of a global pandemic.

On Sunday, Iran's Health Ministry reported 194 deaths and 6,566 infections. 2,134 have recovered. 

The illness, whose symptoms are fever, cough and difficulty breathing, may cause lung lesions and pneumonia.

MH/PA

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