US President Joe Biden claims the country is to end its “combat mission” in Iraq by the end of the year amid reports dismissing the move as simple rebranding of the American occupation.
“We’re not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission,” Biden told reporters during a meeting at the White House with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Monday.
The two also sealed a so-called agreement enabling the move.
The New York Times, however, reported on Saturday that the Pentagon had no intention of pulling out any of the 2,500 US troops stationed in Iraq. It said the Defense Department simply sought to rename on paper the combat role that is given to the US forces and instead hand it over to logistics specialists, advisers, trainers, and the like.
Biden likewise said, “Our role in Iraq will be … to be available, to continue to train….”
He also alleged the Takfiri terrorist group of Daesh to be another focus for the retitled mission.
The US led scores of its allies into Iraq in 2014 under the banner of fighting the terrorists. Observers say the operation came at a time, when Washington was almost running out of excuses to prolong its 2003-present invasion of the Arab country.
The coalition sustains its presence, although, Baghdad and its allies defeated the Takfiris in late 2017.
Since the emergence of the coalition, numerous reports as well as regional and resistance officials have unveiled its roll in backing up the group throughout the region and Iraq, including by providing it with supplies and helping it relocate about.
Biden also underlined that US forces’ presence in the Arab country would be geared towards “dealing with” Daesh “as it rises,” fueling fears that Washington and its allies could try to invigorate the group to conjure up an excuse for the foreign presence.
The US-led presence also runs directly counter to a law that was passed by the Iraqi parliament early last year ruling all forms of US-led military presence in the country illegal.
The legislative body approved the law after a US drone strike targeted the capital Baghdad, martyring senior Iranian and Iraqi anti-terror commanders, Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
The commanders had played an indispensable role in crushing Daesh.