US troops have been in Iraq since 2003. (AFP/File Photo)
Firebrand Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s parliamentary bloc has reiterated rejection of the presence of U.S. troops in Iraqi capital Baghdad.
On Saturday, images of Brig. Gen. Austin Renforth, Director of Joint Operations-Iraq for the Combined Joint Task Force, while touring the culture-rich Mutanabi Street in central Baghdad have triggered uproar across the Arab country.
Renforth was pictured on the tour along with Baghdad’s commander of operations Jalil al-Rubaie on the anniversary of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq.
“This is a challenge to national will, a new violation of Iraq’s sovereignty and a bad behavior that reveals the ugly face of the American administration,” Hamdallah Rikabi, a spokesman for Sadr’s Sairoon bloc, said in a statement on Sunday.
“We announce our condemnation and rejection of these cowardly acts and warn these forces not to repeat such barbaric behavior,” he added.
The Iraqi lawmaker went on to urge the government to issue an official explanation to the Iraqi public about the incident.
“Our position remains the same in rejecting American policies that do not respect the sovereignty of nations, their territorial integrity and the dignity of their people,” Hamdallah said.
The Iraqi government has yet to comment on the incident.
U.S. troops ended their combat operations in Iraq in 2010, and focused their work there on training the Iraqi forces.
The last U.S. soldier left Iraq on Dec. 18, 2011, with the exception of a number of U.S. military personnel who remained under the authority of the U.S. Embassy.