US and Iraq initiate formal discussions on phasing out the US-led military coalition | Military News

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Presently, there are approximately 2,500 US troops still situated in Iraq as part of the coalition that was established in 2014 to assist in the defeat of ISIL. Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani, along with senior officials from the Iraqi armed forces and the US-led coalition, convened in Baghdad for an initial round of discussions on the future of US and other foreign troops in the country. Baghdad is anticipating that these talks will result in a timeline for reducing the presence of foreign troops.

The joint commission recently commenced the first bilateral dialogue between Iraq and the United States of America to conclude the Coalition’s mission in Iraq, as stated by Al-Sudani’s office. This marks a decade after the mission’s commencement and its successful achievement in partnership with Iraqi security and military forces. The US aims to establish a committee to negotiate the terms of the mission’s end, a topic that was first broached last year. However, US forces in Iraq and Syria have faced frequent attacks by Iran-allied groups, prompting US retaliatory attacks and Iraqi complaints of US “aggression” against its territory.

Following the loss of ISIL’s control in Iraq, there have been calls for the withdrawal of coalition forces, especially after a US air strike in January 2020 that killed Iranian top commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis outside Baghdad airport. Iraqi officials have expressed discontent over the US attacks, citing violations of their sovereignty. As part of the joint commission, Washington and Baghdad agreed to the establishment of “expert working groups of military and defence professionals”. These groups will delve into various aspects, including the threat posed by ISIL, operational and environmental requirements, and the enhancement of the Iraqi security forces’ capabilities. The US Pentagon deputy press secretary has acknowledged that the US military footprint in Iraq will be a part of ongoing conversations. While the decision to discuss withdrawal from Iraq was made prior to October 7, ISIL in Iraq claimed responsibility for the decision and stressed their commitment to continuing attacks.

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