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Iraq angered by Trump idea to watch Iran from United States base

Iraq angered by Trump idea to watch Iran from United States base

Trump, in his interview with CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday, said some U.S. troops pulling out from Syria will relocate to usa bases in Iraq.

Iraqi President Barham Salih has said US President Donald Trump did not ask Iraq's permission US troops stationed there to "watch Iran".

President Trump is standing by his plans to reduce the USA military footprint in the Middle East, but he said he intends to maintain a presence in Iraq to keep tabs on Rival Iran.

He also stressed that "it is of fundamental interest for Iraq to have good relations with Iran" and other immediate neighbours.

For the first time since he became U.S. president nearly two years ago, Trump paid a surprise visit to American troops in Iraq on December 26.

"I want to be able to watch Iran", Trump continued.

The Ain al-Asad military base in Iraq to which Trump was referring was almost the site of a deadly attack over the weekend. "It's perfectly situated for looking at all over different parts of the troubled Middle East rather than pulling up", he added.

"The Iraqi constitution rejects the use of Iraq as a base for hitting or attacking a neighboring country", he said. Shiite-led Iran has strongly backed fellow Shiites who assumed power in Iraq after the 2003 USA -led invasion deposed a regime headed by minority Sunni Muslims under dictator Saddam Hussein.

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"We will not allow this", he said, adding that American forces are in Iraq only to assist in the fight against terrorism.

Salih was responding on Monday to Trump's comments to USA media in which he said American forces would remain at a U.S. base in Iraq to keep a close eye on neighbouring Iran.

Trump said the Islamic State has been stripped of 99 percent of its Syrian territory so far, and the US military will soon be able to announce 100 percent has been reclaimed. But we didn't have Syria whereas we had Iraq.

Iraq's government has been struggling to balance its relationships with Iran and the United States, its two biggest allies, as tensions between Tehran and Washington have risen under Trump's administration.

He appeared to be referring to the Al-Asad air base in western Iraq, where he paid a brief visit to USA forces in December.

He declared last month: 'We have won against ISIS; we've beaten them, and we've beaten them badly'. Curbing foreign influence has become a hot-button issue in Iraq after parliament elections in May in which Shiite militias backed by Iran made significant gains. The report said that when USA troops withdraw, it is "unclear what would occur with the Manbij agreement".

While singling out the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) as "tenacious fighters, " the Inspector-General noted the threat of a Turkish invasion against these USA -backed forces, as Ankara views them to be linked to Turkish separatists. "But certainly it's something that's on the - it's an option", Trump said when asked about the possibility.