U.S. soldiers gather at a military base north of Mosul, Iraq, on Jan. 4, 2017. (Reuters File photo)
BAGHDAD, Feb. 4 (Xinhua) -- Ammar al-Hakim, the Shiite cleric and head of the National Wisdom Movement, rejected on Monday the statements of U.S. President Donald Trump about keeping U.S. forces in Iraq to watch Iran.
"We strongly reject the idea of Iraq being an arena to settle regional and international scores, or to turn it into a platform to watch, provoke, or encroach neighboring states," Al-Hakim said on Twitter.
"The Iraqi constitution provides that Iraq must not threaten the security and stability of the region and the world. Therefore, we consider the approach of turning our land into a platform to harm neighboring states a threat to our security and national interest," he added.
Iraqi President Barham Salih stressed earlier that Trump didn't get Iraq's permission to watch Iran.
"The presence of U.S. forces is within legal contexts and according to agreements between the two states. Any action beyond the agreements is unacceptable," Salih said during a forum in the capital Baghdad.
U.S. troops, stationed in several military bases across Iraq, are part of an anti-Islamic State (IS) global coalition which has been fighting and conducting airstrikes against IS targets in both Iraq and Syria.
U.S. media quoted Trump as saying that his administration will keep the troops in Iraq to watch Iran and that having a base in Iraq is vital to observing the conditions in the Middle East.
During an interview with U.S.-based CBS television broadcast on Sunday, Trump highlighted the importance of having U.S. troops in Iraq "to watch Iran," adding that he has no intention to strike Iran.