April 7 (UPI) — The United States and Iraq on Wednesday reached an agreement on the eventual withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from the nation.
In a joint statement following the conclusion of the third round of discussions between the United States and Iraq called the Strategic Dialogue — that the first two of which were conducted under the Trump administration — both the two sides agreed the U.S. military presence could start to change into a non-combat function.
“Based on the increasing capacity of the [Iraq Security Forces], the parties confirmed that the mission of U.S. and Coalition forces has now transitioned to one focused on training and advisory tasks, thereby allowing for the redeployment of any remaining combat forces from Iraq, with the timing to be established in upcoming technical talks,” the announcement said.
The announcement went on to state that the transition of U.S. and other international forces from combat operations”reflects the success of their strategic partnership” to fight the presence of their Islamic State terror group in Iraq.
Iraq’s national security advisor, Qasem al-Araji, said in a news conference the talks resulted in”important progress” toward the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops.
About two,500 U.S. troops remain in Iraq helping the ISF fight the IS, according to the Pentagon.
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby told reporters there was”no specific agreement of a date certain or a certain number of troops by a certain date,” but ensured the United States hasn’t intended to keep troops in Iraq indefinitely.
“I think we all realized when we were invited in by the government of Iraq, that this mission was aligned against ISIS and that there was no expectation that it was going to be a permanent, enduring mission or footprint,” said Kirby, employing an alternate abbreviation for the terror group.