US Troops to leave Iraq by year end, says Biden

DM Monitoring

WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi sealed an agreement formally ending the US combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021, more than 18 years after US troops were sent to the country.
Coupled with Biden’s withdrawal of the last American forces in Afghanistan by the end of August, the Democratic president is completing US combat missions in the two wars that then-President George W Bush began under his watch.
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.
There are currently 2,500 US troops in Iraq focusing on countering the remnants of ISIL (ISIS). The US role in Iraq will shift entirely to training and advising the Iraqi military to defend itself.
The shift is not expected to have a major effect since the United States has already moved towards focusing on training Iraqi forces.
A US-led coalition invaded Iraq in March 2003 based on charges that then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein’s government possessed weapons of mass destruction. Saddam was removed from power, but such weapons were never found. In recent years the US mission was dominated by helping defeat ISIL in Iraq and Syria.
“Nobody is going to declare mission accomplished. The goal is the enduring defeat of ISIS,” a senior administration official told reporters ahead of Kadhimi’s visit.