Fri, 17 Sep 2021

By Reena BhardwajWashington [US], July 27 (ANI): US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi announced an agreement on Monday (local time) to formally end the US combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021.

Biden and Kadhimi met in the Oval Office for their first face-to-face talks as part of a strategic dialogue between the United States and Iraq.

"Our role in Iraq will be ... to be available, to continue to train, to assist, to help and to deal with ISIS as it arises, but we're not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission," Biden told reporters as he and Kadhimi met.

"We support strengthening Iraq's democracy and we're anxious to make sure the election goes forward in October," Biden added alongside the politically embattled Prime Minister.

"And we're also committed to our security cooperation, our shared fight against ISIS. It's critical for the stability of the region and our counter-terrorism cooperation will continue, even as we shift to this new phase we're going to be talking about," he added.

The US-Iraqi statement is expected to detail a number of non-military agreements related to health, energy and other matters.

After eighteen years from the US-led invasion of Iraq, the end of the combat mission comes at Iraq's urging. "As this evolution continues, and as we formally end the combat mission and make clear that there are no American forces with a combat role in the country, Iraq has requested, and we very much agree, that they need continued training; support with logistics, intelligence, advisory capacity building -- all of which will continue," a senior official told reporters.

The official further added that the Islamic State terrorist group still remains a threat and referred to a bombing that occurred in Baghdad last week.

The attack, the official said, reinforces that both nations understand Iraq still needs advisory training and capacity-building support.

America only has about 2,500 regular troops left in Iraq, plus a small and undisclosed number of Special Operations forces fighting IS. The US role in Iraq will shift entirely to training and advising the Iraqi military to defend itself. (ANI)

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