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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Majority in Iraq's Parliament Back Withdrawal Timetable

BAGHDAD -- A majority of Iraqi lawmakers have signed onto draft legislation calling for a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq and demanding a freeze on the number of such troops already in the country, lawmakers said Thursday.

The legislation was being discussed even as U.S. legislators were locked in a dispute with the White House over their call to start reducing the size of the U.S. force in Iraq in the coming months.

The proposed Iraqi legislation, drafted by the parliamentary bloc loyal to anti-U.S. Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, was signed by 144 members of the 275-member house, said Nassar al-Rubaie, leader of Sadr's bloc.

The bloc, which holds 30 parliamentary seats and sees the U.S.-led forces as an occupying army, has pushed similar bills before, but this would be the first time it had garnered the support of a majority of lawmakers.

The bill would require the Iraqi government to seek approval from the parliament before it requests an extension of the United Nations mandate for foreign forces to be in Iraq, Rubaie said. It also calls for a timetable for the troop withdrawal and a freeze on the size of the foreign forces.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously in November to extend the U.S.-led forces' mandate until the end of 2007. The resolution, however, said the council "will terminate this mandate earlier if requested by the government of Iraq."

n U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney saluted U.S. troops stationed near former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's hometown Tikrit on Thursday and defended a recent decision to extend U.S. military deployments as "vital to the mission."