WASHINGTON, DC (WWNY) – President Joe Biden said Monday that the US military’s combat mission in Iraq will end by the end of the year, setting out a more specific timetable for US forces to withdraw. officially in their fight against the Islamic State organization in Iraq.
The plan to transform the US military mission into a strictly advisory and training mission by the end of the year – without US troops in a combat role – will be set out in a broader statement to be released by the United States. United and Iraq after Biden’s meeting at the White House with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Monday afternoon. That’s according to a senior administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the as-yet-unannounced plan.
“We’re not going to be by the end of the year on a combat mission,” said Biden, who noted that US forces will remain in the country to train and assist Iraqi forces as needed.
“Our common fight against ISIS is essential for the stability of the region and our cooperation against terrorism will continue even as we move into this new phase that we will talk about,” Biden added.
US troop presence stands at around 2,500 since late last year, when then-President Donald Trump ordered a reduction of 3,000. Biden did not say how many US troops would remain in Iraq when the combat mission is officially over. The downsizing may not be substantial due to the continuation of the consultancy and training mission.
Currently, the 10th Mountain Division has troops in Iraq.
However, there are no brigade-sized units or larger. This is according to Fort Drum Public Affairs.
He says the 10th had troops in Iraq for the initial invasion in 2003 and since then there have been a total of 12 brigade-sized and above deployments of the 10th to that country.
The plan to end the US combat mission in Iraq follows Biden’s decision to withdraw completely from Afghanistan nearly 20 years after President George W. Bush launched that war in response to the terrorist attacks in Afghanistan. September 11, 2001. Less than two years later, Bush launched the war in Iraq. Biden pledged to continue counterterrorism efforts in the Middle East, but to pay more attention to China as a long-term security challenge.
The senior administration official said Iraq’s security forces are “combat tested” and proven “capable” of protecting their country. Still, the Biden administration recognizes that ISIS remains a significant threat, the official said.
Indeed, the organization is no more than a shell of itself as it was largely routed on the battlefield in 2017. Yet it has shown it can carry out attacks making many victims. Last week, the group claimed responsibility for a bomb attack that killed at least 30 people and injured dozens in a busy market on the outskirts of Baghdad.
The United States and Iraq agreed in April that the US transition to a train-and-advise mission meant the US combat role would end, but they did not set a timetable for completing that transition. The impending announcement comes less than three months before parliamentary elections scheduled for October 10.
“America helped Iraq,” al-Kadhimi said. “Together we fight and have defeated” the Islamic State.
Al-Kadhimi is not without problems. Iran-backed militias operating inside Iraq have stepped up attacks on US forces in recent months, and a series of devastating hospital fires that have left dozens dead and an increase coronavirus infections have added new layers of frustration for the nation.
For al-Kadhimi, the possibility of proposing to the Iraqi public a date for the end of the American military presence could be a feather in his cap before the elections.
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