U.S. combat mission in Iraq to conclude by year end
U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday the U.S. combat mission in Iraq will conclude by the end of the year, an announcement that reflects the reality on the ground more than a major shift in U.S. policy.
Speaking to reporters during an Oval Office session with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Biden said his administration remained committed to a partnership with Iraq — a relationship that has been increasingly complicated by Iranian-backed Iraqi militia groups. The militias want all U.S. troops out of Iraq immediately and have periodically attacked bases that house American troops.
Biden said the U.S. military will continue to assist Iraq in its fight against the ISIS terrorist group banned in Russia. A joint U.S.-Iraq statement said the security relationship will be focused on training, advising and intelligence-sharing.
“Our shared fight against ISIS is critical for the stability of the region and our counterterrorism operation will continue, even as we shift to this new phase we’re going to be talking about,” Biden said.
“We’re not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission,” The AP cited him as saying.
The U.S. troop presence has stood at about 2,500 since late last year when then-President Donald Trump ordered a reduction from 3,000.