US Negotiates With Iraq To Conclude Its Troop Deployment Against ISIS

( — Officials from the US and Iraq held talks in Baghdad on Saturday to wind down the US-led mission formed in 2014 to combat the Islamic State in Iraq, the Associated Press reported.

In a statement last weekend, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said he hosted Saturday’s bilateral talks between Iraq and the United States “to end the mission of the Coalition in Iraq.”

According to the US-led military coalition, working groups made up of military officials and Iraqi officials would assess the threat from ISIS, the operational requirements, and the Iraqi Security Force’s capabilities to address them. A military commission would then work on setting “the conditions to transition the mission in Iraq.”

The talks, which were first announced last Thursday, come when US military personnel in Syria and Iraq have come under regular attack from Iranian-backed militant groups.

Washington said the plans to negotiate the end of the coalition were first discussed last year and had nothing to do with current attacks on US military bases in the region.

The US has maintained a presence in Iraq since the 2003 invasion. While all US combat troops were withdrawn in 2011, thousands of US troops returned three years later to help the Iraqi government defeat ISIS.

Since ISIS was driven from the territory it held in the country, the Iraqi government has periodically requested that the coalition forces withdraw, especially after the January 2020 US airstrike that killed Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

The issue was raised again after Israel declared war on Hamas following the October 7 terrorist attacks.

Since the war began, Iranian-backed militants have launched over 60 attacks on US military installations in Iraq and over 90 attacks on US installations in Syria.

Last Saturday, the militant group Kataib Hezbollah launched multiple ballistic missiles at al-Asad Air Base in western Iraq, where US forces have been training Iraqi security forces in coordinating operations against ISIS.

According to US officials, talks to set up a committee to determine the framework for ending the US-led coalition’s mission were already underway before Hamas attacked Israel on October 7.

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