Iraq PM: No US combat troops to stay in Iraq after IS

Iraqi Christians homes on the Nineveh Plain were largely destroyed under ISIS rule Jaco Klamer  Aid to the Church in Need

The Trump administration is poised to double down on US commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, all but ensuring continued American military involvement in both countries for years to come.

The U.S. -backed Iraqi forces' new foothold aims to open escape routes for the hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped behind ISIS lines and, in turn, help troops' progress.

The U.S. official emphasized that discussions were in early stages and that "nothing has been finalized".

As the fight to liberate Mosul continues, a USA military spokesman told reporters on Wednesday, "We think that there are fewer than a thousand fighters left in the city - probably well short of a thousand fighters". They would continue to be designated as advisers to dodge the need for parliamentary approval for their presence, he said.

Officials: US, Iraq in talks to keep American troops in the country after fight against Islamic State group is over.

Currently, the Pentagon has close to 7,000 us troops in Iraq, many not publicly acknowledged because they are on temporary duty or under specific personnel rules. In March 2016, the month before the task force arrived in Iraq, the authority was granted not only to the general in charge of the operation, but also for colonels, lieutenant colonels, and in at least one case, a captain near the front of the fighting, he explained. The news comes less than two weeks after Mattis made an unannounced visit to Kabul to assess the Pentagon's role in bringing the US involvement in Afghanistan to a permanent close.

That is down from the Iraq War high of about 170,000 USA troops in 2007.

Leaving some kind of residual United States force in Iraq would be in tune with President Trump's assertion during the presidential campaign that it was mistake for the USA to not leave a residual after it 2011 withdrawal.

A cross consecrated in the ISIS-devastated town
A cross consecrated in the ISIS-devastated town

The U.S. intervention against the Islamic State group, launched in 2014, was originally cast as an operation that would largely be fought from the skies with a minimal footprint on Iraqi soil.

Iraqi forces are hoping to move closer to Mosul's Old City, where IS jihadists are keeping countless civilians hostage to use as human shields in battle.

On Thursday, U.S. Special Operations Command chief Gen. Raymond Thomas refused to characterize the Afghan War as a stalemate, but did question the level of commitment to the war effort by the Obama administration.

"I also believe that what we saw and participated in was a major transformation", he said.

The Iraqi army said on April 30 that it aimed to complete the battle for Mosul, the largest city to have fallen under ISIS control, in both Iraq and Syria, this month.

Baghdad said it has its own plans and strategies to face future challenges by advancing the Iraqi army through training and arming its forces.

Al-Abadi has long struggled to balance Iraq's dependence on both the USA and Iran.




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