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Killing of militia commander Muhandis a clear breach of U.S. troop mandate - Iraqi military

FILE PHOTO: Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a commander in the Popular Mobilization Forces, attends a funeral procession of Hashd al-Shaabi (paramilitary forces) members, who were killed by U.S. air strikes in Qaim district, at the Green zone in Baghdad, Iraq December 31, 2019. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani/File Photo

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraq’s military condemned on Friday the killing of militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis by U.S. forces in an air strike on Baghdad airport and said it was a clear breach of their mandate in Iraq.

“The Joint Operations Command mourns the hero martyr ... who was martyred last night in a cowardly and treacherous attack carried out by American aircraft near Baghdad international airport,” it said in a statement.

“We affirm that what happened is a flagrant violation of Iraqi sovereignty and a clear breach by the American forces of their mandate which is exclusively to fight Islamic State and provide advice and assistance to Iraqi security forces.”

The air strike also killed Qassem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force and architect of its growing military influence in the Middle East, and several Iraqi militiamen.

Reporting by Ahmed Aboulenein; Editing by Maha El Dahan