Iran’s top leader urges Iraqi PM to remove US forces

In this picture released by an official website of the office of the Iranian supreme leader, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, right, speaks with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, April, 6, 2019. (Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s top leader has warned visiting Iraqi prime minister about a lengthy presence of U.S. forces in Iran’s neighboring Arab country.

The website of the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Saturday quotes him as telling Adel Abdul-Mahdi that Iraq’s government should take measures to remove American forces quickly. He says the longer the U.S. forces are there, the more difficult it will be to remove them.

Some 5,200 troops are stationed in Iraq as part of a security agreement with the Iraqi government to advise, assist and support the country’s troops in the fight against the Islamic State.

Tehran sees the U.S. military presence at its doorstep in Iraq as a threat — one that could also undermine Iran’s influence over Baghdad.

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