US Pledges Iraq Troop Withdrawal But Without Timeline
Sumaira FH 6 days ago Thu 08th April 2021 | 08:20 AM
Washington, April 8 (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 8th Apr, 2021 ) :The United States committed Wednesday to move all remaining combat forces from Iraq, although the two sides did not set a timeline in what would be the second withdrawal since the 2003 invasion.
The first "strategic dialogue" with Iraq under US President Joe Biden's administration comes as Iranian-linked Shiite paramilitary groups fire rockets nearly daily at bases with foreign troops in hopes of forcing a US exit.
The two nations agreed in a videoconference led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein that Iraqi forces were ready to take on more responsibility.
"The parties confirmed that the mission of US 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," a joint statement said.
Iraqi calls soared for a withdrawal of US troops in January 2020 after former president Donald Trump ordered the assassination in Baghdad of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani -- and tensions have remained high.
But Biden, in a rare point of agreement with Trump, has been looking for ways to wind down what have come to be dubbed "endless wars." Trump had ordered a drawdown in his final months from Iraq as well as Afghanistan with the number of US troops in each country dipping to 2,500 by January 15.
Iraq's national security advisor, Qassem al-Araji, promised efforts to protect foreign forces and confirmed that the United States would move ahead with a pullout.
The Pentagon declined to specify a timeline for a withdrawal, saying it would be worked out in the technical talks.
"We've all been working to an eventual redeployment," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told reporters, "when there's no need for American support on the ground." Former president Barack Obama, under whom Biden served as vice president, had removed all US forces from Iraq in a fulfillment of his pledges after opposing the 2003 invasion.
But Obama sent troops back in 2014 as the Islamic State group rampaged across Iraq and Syria, brutally slaying and enslaving all but Sunni Muslims as it established a self-styled "caliphate." "The mission is still valid. The invitation by the Iraqi government is still in place," Kirby said.
The shift "reflects the success of their strategic partnership and ensures support to the (Iraqi security forces') continued efforts to ensure ISIS can never again threaten Iraq's stability," the joint statement said.