US Combat Mission in Iraq to Conclude by Year End
The U.S. combat mission in Iraq will conclude by the end of the year, President Joe Biden announced Monday.
However the president would not say whether he planned to reduce the number of troops in Iraq, which now number about 2,500.
The announcement came during an Oval Office session with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, and in the wake of Biden’s decision to withdraw fully from Afghanistan nearly 20 years after the U.S. launched that war in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office prior to an extended private discussion with the Iraqi Prime Minister, Biden said his administration remained committed to a partnership with Iraq, and will continue to assist the nation in its fight against the Islamic State group.
A joint U.S.-Iraqi statement issued after the meeting 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.
The move from a U.S. combat role to one focused on training and advising the Iraqi security forces was announced in April, when a joint U.S.-Iraqi statement said this transition allowed for the removal from Iraq of any remaining U.S. combat forces on a timetable to be determined later.
It did not specify what combat functions the U.S. was engaged in then, nor did Biden get into such specifics on Monday.
“We’re not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission,” he said.