Jul 26, 2021 - World

Biden: U.S. combat mission in Iraq will end this year

Biden returning to the White House on July 25.

Biden returning to the White House on July 25. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The United States' combat mission against the Islamic State in Iraq will be completed "by the end of the year," President Biden said Monday prior to a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Why it matters: Biden is close to shifting the U.S. military mission in Iraq to a fully advisory role more than 18 years after combat troops were sent to the country under the former President George W. Bush.

What they're saying: U.S. troops would "be available, to continue to train, to assist, to help, and to deal with ISIS as it...arrives.  But we’re not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission," Biden told reporters before the meeting.

  • He did not offer a formal end date to the conflict mission, which commenced more than seven years ago.

By the numbers: There are currently around 2,500 U.S. troops in Iraq who are primarily training Iraqi security forces and performing counter-terrorism operations against the remnants of ISIS.

  • A small number of U.S. service members will remain in Iraq indefinitely in logistics, advisory and intelligence roles and to coordinate air support for Iraqi forces in the fight against ISIS.

The big picture: The meeting comes as Democrats are working to repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) in Iraq. If passed by the Senate, the repeal would prevent the president from carrying out attacks in Iraq without securing prior approval from Congress.

  • al-Kadhimi has told multiple news outlets that he believes U.S. combat troops are no longer needed in the country to counter ISIS, though he stressed that Iraqi security forces will still ask for U.S. training and military intelligence gathering.
  • A formal agreement between the countries is a political win for al-Kadhimi, who faces parliamentary elections in around three months amid pressure from Shiite political groups that want all American troops in Iraq to depart.

Go deeper: U.S. military mission in Afghanistan will end Aug. 31

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