US troops in Iraq will play an advisory and training role, and their combat role will end, US President Joe Biden announced on Monday. He did not directly answer the question of how many of the 2,500 soldiers will remain in Iraq at the end of the year, when the combat mission is about to end.
At the beginning of the visit of Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to the White House, the US President announced a change in the nature of the American military mission in Iraq. Earlier, Kadhimi himself emphasized in interviews that US combat troops are no longer needed by Iraq. – Our role in Iraq will be to be available to train, assist and deal with ISIS when needed. But we will not be on a combat mission there, said the American president, who recalled that his late son Beau had served in Iraq.
Joe Biden did not directly answer the question of how many of the 2,500 US troops will remain in the country at the end of the year when the mission is due to end. The exact numbers were not disclosed earlier by the White House during a special briefing.
The president also announced the shipment of half a million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to Iraq and announced an expansion of the partnership with Iraq in the areas of “healthcare, climate and energy”. Biden expressed his hope that parliamentary elections with the participation of international observers would take place in October as planned.
Change of the nature of the US mission in Iraq
The presence of American troops in Iraq has generated tensions, especially among pro-Iranian parties and movements. US forces have also been the target of attacks by Shiite militias on many occasions, especially after the US attack in Baghdad last year against the commander of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, General Kasem Suleimani. The Iraqi parliament then passed a resolution calling on the US to withdraw its troops from the country.
According to the New York Times, changing the nature of the mission is unlikely to satisfy pro-Iranian militias. A spokesman for one of the largest of them told the daily that it considered the change to be an “fraud” attempt.
The Iraqi prime minister in the Sunday interview with the PA agency stated that the presence of combat units of the US forces is no longer necessary in the fight against the Islamic State. “What we expect from the United States today is to support our forces and increase their capacity and effectiveness through training,” he added.
US troops were sent to Iraq in 2014 – three years after their early withdrawal – by President Obama in response to the seizure by the so-called Islamic State has many Iraqi cities, including Mosul. Although the organization is no longer in territory, it remains a terrorist threat. Only a week ago, as a result of the so-called bomb attack The Islamic State in Baghdad killed 35 people.
Main photo source: Tom Brenner / PAP / EPA