WASHINGTON – The United States and Iraq said on Wednesday they have agreed on the eventual withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Iraq and that the two governments will hold talks to determine when .
In a joint statement following a series of talks between US and Iraqi officials, the two governments said the mission of US forces was now focused on training Iraqi troops to fight ISIS. As a result, combat troops will no longer be needed in the future, the statement said.
According to the Pentagon, there are currently around 2,500 American troops in Iraq helping Iraq counter Daesh, but it is not clear how many forces could be considered combat troops.
“Based on the growing capacity of the ISF (Iraqi Security Forces), the parties have confirmed that the mission of US and coalition forces has now shifted to a mission focused on training and advisory tasks, thus enabling the redeployment of all remaining Iraqi combat forces. , with the timetable to be established during the next technical discussions ”, indicates the joint press release.
“The transition of US and international forces from combat operations to ISF training, equipping and assistance reflects the success of their strategic partnership and provides support to the continuing efforts of the ISF to ensure that ISIS will never again be able to threaten the stability of Iraq, ”the statement said.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters that no details had been worked out on when the combat troops might exit, or even on the timing of planned talks on the issue.
“There was no specific agreement on a certain date or a certain number of troops on a certain date,” Kirby said.
The United States never intended to keep troops in Iraq indefinitely, he said.
“I think we all realized, when we were invited by the Iraqi government, that this mission was aligned against Daesh, and that no one expected it to be a permanent and lasting mission or footprint,” he said. Kirby said.
President Barack Obama withdrew US troops from Iraq in 2011, then returned forces to the country in 2014 after ISIS militants seized large swathes of territory in Iraq.
The Pentagon says the threat posed by ISIS has been drastically reduced and the group has been significantly weakened from what it was, but the militants still pose a danger to Iraq and the region.
Mosheh Gains contributed.