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World

27. 07. 2021. 00:00   >>  17:26 0

UNTILL THE END OF THE YEAR

Biden announces end of Iraqi mission

The United States will end its combat mission in Iraq by the end of the year, President Joe Biden confirmed Monday in a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

"We’re not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission," Biden said in the Oval Office.

 

Biden said U.S. troops would continue to train and assist Iraqi forces as they battle the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

 

The United States has about 2,500 troops in Iraq after a series of drawdowns in recent years. Their assignments include counterterrorism operations and training Iraqi security forces.

 

America's military presence in Iraq became a flashpoint between the two allies after the Trump administration targeted Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani in a fatal drone strike in 2020.

 

“There is no need for any foreign combat forces on Iraqi soil,” al-Kadhimi told The Associated Press on Sunday. Al-Kadhimi did not provide a timeline for American troops to leave, but he said Iraq’s security forces and army are capable of defending the country without U.S.-led coalition troops.

 

He emphasized that Iraq will still seek U.S. military assistance in training and intelligence gathering.

 

“I'd like to thank the American people on behalf of all Iraq’s people,” he said during the Oval Office meeting with Biden. “Today our nation is stronger than ever."

 

During a briefing at the White House Monday, press secretary Jen Psaki declined to say how many U.S. troops would remain in Iraq.

 

"The numbers will be driven by what is needed for the mission over time," Psaki said. "The real announcement today ... is about a change of mission."

 

Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the drawdown of U.S. combat troops would ease the political pressure on al-Kadhimi from pro-Iranian militia forces and Iraq’s internal tensions.

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