Dec 9, 2021 - Politics & Policy

U.S. general: 2,500 U.S. troops to remain in Iraq

Photo of two U.S. Army soldiers stationed in a guardhouse

U.S. Army soldiers stationed at a guardhouse on the perimeter of the International Zone on May 30 in Baghdad, Iraq. Photo: John Moore via Getty Images

The U.S. will keep 2,500 troops currently stationed in Iraq in place for the foreseeable future, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East said in an interview with AP on Thursday.

Why it matters: Iranian-backed militia attacks on U.S. and Iraqi personnel are likely to increase as they double down on their attempt to push U.S. forces out, Marine Gen. Frank McKenzie warned.

What he's saying: Though the U.S. is ending its combat mission in Iraq, they will continue to provide air and other support in the fight against the Islamic State, McKenzie told AP.

  • Iranian-backed militias, however, want all Western forces to leave Iraq. "[T]hat may provoke a response as we get later into the end of the month," he said.
  • "We’ve drawn down from bases we didn’t need, we’ve made it harder to get at us. But the Iraqis still want us to be there," he added. "They still want the presence, they still want the engagement."
  • "So as long as they want it, and we can mutually agree that’s the case — we’re going to be there."
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