US eyes eventual Iraq exit as ISIS threat wanes
April 08, 2021 at 00:16
(CNN) The Biden administration is eying an eventual withdrawal of US troops from Iraq as the country's security forces grow more capable and the threat of ISIS wanes, the two countries announced in a joint statement Wednesday.
The statement followed a meeting between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein.
The timing of the exit will be determined in upcoming "technical talks," which have not yet been scheduled, to discuss the process of withdrawal, said chief Pentagon spokesman John Kirby.
"The idea was to defeat ISIS and that's still the goal.
That's still the objective, that's still the mission but we have always known that, eventually, there is going to be a redeployment of forces from Iraq," Kirby said during a news briefing Wednesday.
"There was no expectation that this was going to be a permanent, enduring mission."
The US currently has some 2,500 troops in Iraq focused on the mission to defeat ISIS as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the global coalition to defeat what remains of the ISIS caliphate that controlled parts of Iraq and Syria.
The troops have now shifted to training and advisory tasks, "thereby allowing the for the redeployment of any remaining forces from Iraq," the joint US-Iraq statement said.Source