President Joe Biden says U.S. troops will end their warfare mission in Iraq by the end of 2021 but will proceed to guide and direct the Iraqi military.
The declaration comes after Mr Biden spoke with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in the White House. There are presently 2,500 US troops in Iraq assisting local forces in countering the remnants of the Islamic State group.
The number of U.S. troops is likely to remain the same, but the move is seen as an effort to help the Iraqi prime minister.
The U.S. occupancy in Iraq has grown as a significant issue since top Iranian General Qasem Soleimani, and the head of an Iran-backed Shia-Muslim militia were killed in a U.S. drone strike in the capital, Baghdad, last year.
Political parties in line with Iran have demanded that all forces be withdrawn from the US-led global coalition against I.S., despite the constant threat posed by the Sunni jihadist group.
Meanwhile, Shia militias have been accused by the U.S. of carrying out hundreds of rocket, mortar and drone strikes on Iraqi military bases hosted by coalition forces in an apparent attempt to push them down.
For the U.S. President, the announcement is the end of another war that began under former President George W. Bush. This year, he stated the U.S. army will depart Afghanistan.
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In the White House, Mr Biden told his Iraqi counterpart, “our cooperation against terrorism will continue, even if we go to this new phase.”
Mr Kadhimi replied: “Today our relationship is stronger than ever. Our cooperation is for the economy, the environment, health, education, culture and more.” He insisted that no foreign combat troops be needed in Iraq.
U.S. leaders invaded Iraq in 2003 to overthrow President Saddam Hussein and eliminate weapons of mass destruction that appear to be non-existent.
Then-President George W. Bush had pledged a “free and amicable Iraq,” but it was covered in a bloody sectarian uprising.
U.S. combat troops eventually withdrew in 2011. However, they returned three years later, at the request of the Iraqi government, when I.S. militants overran large parts of the country.
After the military defeat of I.S. in Iraq at the end of 2017, U.S. troops remained to help prevent a revival of the group.
“Our role in Iraq is to be available to continue training, to assist, to assist and deal with ISIS as it arrives,” he said. Bids added to the meeting.
“But we are not going to be in a combat mission by the end of the year.”