Baghdad, Jan 15: Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi on Tuesday denied the media reports that the United States has asked Iraq to dissolve Shiite paramilitary Hashd Shaabi brigades.
The reports alleged that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo demanded the Iraqi government freeze and confiscate the weapons of up to 67 Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and dissolve them within a period of time, including Badr, Asa'b Ahl al-Haq and Saraya al-Salam, or Peace Companies, headed by the Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.
"The talk about a period of time to dissolve the Hashd Shaabi is incorrect," Mahdi told a press conference after the weekly cabinet meeting.
He confirmed that the issue of the Hashd Shaabi paramilitary brigades "is purely Iraqi."
Moreover, Mahdi denied local news report claiming that there is an increase in the number of U.S. troops in Iraq, adding that the "talk about the increase of foreign troops in Iraq is not true."
On Jan 9, Pompeo paid a surprise visit to Iraq and held a series of meetings with Iraqi top officials before meeting with the Kurdish leaders in the semi-autonomous Kurdistan region in northern Iraq.
Pompeo's visit to Baghdad is part of his Middle East tour, in which he tried to reassure U.S. allies about the U.S. commitment to the region following Washington's decision to pull out troops from Syria.
The majority of Hashd Shaabi units that were mentioned in the media reports are part of the Hashd Shaabi Board, which is officially under the command of the prime minister, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi force. (UNI-XINHUA)