Great Britain

Biden seals deal to withdraw US combat troops from Iraq - ending 18 year deployment

The US President and Prime Minister of Iraq, Mustafa al-Kadimi, held discussions about “shifting to a new phase in the campaign” at the White House over the weekend. These talks are the first in person meeting between the two leaders as they have only spoken over the phone previously.

The two leaders sealed an agreement which would put an end to the US combat mission in Iraq by the end of this year.

This would be more than 18 years after the troops were sent to the country following a coalition spearheaded by the US that invaded Iraq in March 2003.

The invasion was based on charges that Hussein's government held weapons of mass destruction - however, these weapons were not found.

When Hussein was ousted from power, the US troops remained and helped tackle ISIS militants in the area.

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While US combat troops will be leaving the country, some troops will remain to “help train, advise and equip them to do things such as countering ISIS''.

“Our counter-terrorism co-operation will continue even as we shift to this new phase,” Mr Biden told Mr Kadimi during their meeting at the White House.

The Prime Minister of Iraq responded with: “Today our relationship is stronger than ever.”

“Our co-operation is for the economy, the environment, health, education, culture and more."

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Mr Kadimi stressed that foreign troops were not needed in Iraq.

Currently 2,500 US troops remain in Iraq helping local forces, many in “advise and assist” roles.

Last week the Pentagon did not release what number of these are combat troops.

“Our role in Iraq will be dealing with being available to continue to train, to assist, to help and deal with ISIS as it arrives," Mr Biden added at the meeting.

"But we're not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission."

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