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Biden says US combat missions in Iraq will be completed by the end of the year

Washington – President Joe Biden said Monday that US combat missions in Iraq would be completed by the end of the year. This is an announcement that reflects the reality of the field more than a major change in US policy.

Even before Biden took office, the main focus of the United States was to support Iraqi troops, not to fight for them. And Biden did not say whether there were any plans to reduce the number of Iraqi troops to about 2,500 now.

The announcement follows the decision by Biden to withdraw completely from Afghanistan about 20 years after the United States began the war in Afghanistan in response to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. rice field. At the same time, the war between Afghanistan and Iraq has put a heavy burden on the U.S. military and prevented further attention from the rising China, which the Biden administration calls the biggest long-term security challenge.

For years, the US military has played a supporting role in Syria, which borders Iraq. This is the origin of a group of Islamic states that crossed the border and occupied a large area of ​​Iraqi territory in 2014, urging the United States to send troops back to Iraq. Year.

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Biden told reporters in an oval office session with Iraqi Prime Minister Mostapha al-Tadimi, saying his administration remains committed to its partnership with Iraq. The militia wants to expel all US troops from Iraq immediately and regularly attacks the bases that house them.

Dan Caldwell, senior adviser to the concerned US veterans, said the US military would continue to be at risk.

“Regardless of whether their deployment is called a combat mission, US troops will continue to be attacked normally as long as they remain in Iraq,” Caldwell said in a statement. “A US military presence in Iraq is not necessary for our safety, it only risks the loss of more Americans.”

Biden said the US military would continue to support Iraq in the fight against Islamic State groups, or ISIS. A joint statement between the United States and Iraq said security relations will focus on training, advice and information sharing.

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“Our shared battle against ISIS is important for regional stability, and our counter-terrorism operations will continue as we move to this new stage of discussion,” Biden said. rice field.

The transition from the US combat role to a role focused on training and advice for Iraqi security forces was announced in April. I will decide later. It did not identify which combat function the United States was engaged in at the time, and Biden did not mention such details on Monday.

“By the end of the year, we won’t be on a combat mission,” he said.

White House spokesman Jen Psaki did not say how many troops would remain in Iraq by the end of the year.

“The numbers are determined by what the mission needs over time, so it’s about moving from what we had in the last few years to more advice and training abilities,” she said. Told.

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The US military presence has reached about 2,500 since then-President Donald Trump ordered a reduction from 3,000 at the end of last year.

In 2017, the Iraqi government declared victory over the Islamic State group. Islamic State groups are now the shell of their former self. Still, it shows that it can carry out high casualty attacks. Last week, the group blamed roadside bombings, which killed at least 30 people and injured dozens in the busy suburban Baghdad market.

In his remarks alongside Biden, Arkadimi thanked the United States for its support.

Returning to his hometown, Arkadimi is not facing a shortage of problems. Iranian-backed militias operating in Iraq have intensified their attacks on the U.S. military in recent months, resulting in dozens of deaths and a series of catastrophic hospital fires that have resulted in a surge in coronavirus infections. , Added a new layer of frustration to the country.

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For Al Kadimi, the ability to provide the Iraqi people with an end date for their US combat presence could be feathered in his head before the elections scheduled for October.

Biden administration officials say Arkadimi also deserves praise for improving Iraq’s position in the Middle East. Last month, King Abdullah II of Jordan and President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi of Egypt visited Baghdad for a joint meeting. The Egyptian president made his first official visit since the 1990s, when relations were cut off after Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait.

The Iraqi Prime Minister said he believed it was time for the United States to finish its mission before the trip to Washington.

“We don’t need foreign combat troops in Iraqi soil,” Arkadimi told The Associated Press last weekend.

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The US mission of training and advising Iraqi troops stems from President Barack Obama’s decision to send troops back to Iraq in 2014. The move was in response to the Islamic State group’s takeover of most of western and northern Iraq and the collapse of Iraqi security forces that appear to threaten Baghdad. Obama completely withdrew US troops from Iraq in 2011, eight years after the US invasion.

Pentagon officials have been trying to balance what they consider to be the military presence needed to support the Iraqi government’s fight against IS for years and Iraq’s political sensitivity to the presence of foreign troops. came.

U.S. military vulnerabilities were most dramatically demonstrated in January 2020, when Iran launched a ballistic missile attack on the Al-Assard Air Force Base in western Iraq. Americans were not killed, but dozens suffered traumatic brain injuries from the blast. The attack took place shortly after a US drone strike killed Iran’s military commander Kasim Soleimani and senior Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi Alm Handis at Baghdad International Airport.

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The Associated Press writer Samya Kullab contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

Biden says US combat missions in Iraq will be completed by the end of the year

Source link Biden says US combat missions in Iraq will be completed by the end of the year

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