Iraq demands mechanism from U.S. on troop pullout

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Iran subsequently conducted retaliatory missile strikes on two American bases in Iraq.

Mahdi said he asked U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo "to send a delegation to Iraq to put a mechanism [in place] for implementing the Iraqi parliament decision to safely withdraw troops from Iraq".

The State Department warned that Iraq's access to its main account at the Federal Reserve Bank of NY could be shut off if the Iraqi government asks American troops to leave, Iraqi officials told the Wall Street Journal.

In a briefing in Washington on Friday, Pompeo said Abdul-Mahdi "didn't quite characterize the conversation correctly".

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They make up the bulk of a broader US-led coalition, invited by the Iraqi government in 2014 to help combat militants. The US responded with a barrage of strikes at the bases of the militia, killing at least 25 people.

He asked the United States to "send delegates to Iraq to prepare a mechanism to carry out the parliament's resolution regarding the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq", a statement from his office said.

A majority of United States airmen stationed at the Al-Balad airbase north of Baghdad had already left, the military sources said, following tensions between the U.S. and Iran over the last two weeks, according to AFP. "We have been unambiguous regarding how crucial our D-ISIS mission is in Iraq".

According to sources, the al-Balad base is the main base of the US Air Force in Iraq.

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Meanwhile, Iranians have also published videos on social media claiming to show the damage inside the airbase. But it appears the USA does not intend to comply. "All enemies should know that the jihad of resistance will continue with a doubled motivation, and a definite victory awaits the fighters in the holy war", Khamenei had said earlier. "We are most anxious about that".

Trump in turn threatened to sanction Iraq if US troops were expelled.

An adviser to Iraq Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi told Reuters that Iran did not directly notify Iraq until shortly before the missile attack - but said Iran passed warnings through other countries. "There's a strategy focused on ISIS that has an Iraq component, there's a strategy toward Iran that has an Iraq component, but if you neutralize those two elements, what is the USA policy vis-a-vis Iraq?"

"Iran's desire to prevent the crisis from escalating has bought us some time, it has the effect of cooling this down just a little", a senior European Union diplomat said. U.S. officials, including President Donald Trump said there were no American or Iraqi casualties. US officials have insisted Soleimani was plotting attacks on USA facilities. The trip was not announced by the State Department due to heightened security concerns, sources said.

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According to the most recent financial statement from the Central Bank of Iraq, the Federal Reserve held about $3 billion in overnight deposits at the end of 2018.

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