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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."

Go deeper

Dec 9, 2021 - World

Army to award Purple Hearts to troops injured in Iran missile attack

Damage at Ain al-Asad military airbase housing U.S. and other foreign troops in the western Iraqi province of Anbar in January 2020. Photo: Ayman Henna/AFP via Getty Images

The Army has approved 39 more Purple Hearts for U.S. soldiers wounded in an Iranian military ballistic missile attack on an Iraq base in January 2020, the Army Times first reported Wednesday.

Why it matters: Most of these soldiers sustained brain injuries, per the Army Times. Then-President Trump dismissed their injuries at the time as "headaches" and "not very serious," sparking backlash from some veterans groups.

Supreme Court agrees to hear challenge to affirmative action at Harvard, UNC

Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to hear a pair of cases challenging the consideration of race in the college admissions processes.

Why it matters: The conservative high court's ruling could determine the future of affirmative action in higher education.

Europe's energy reliance on Russia is a crucial shield for Putin

Photo: Pavel Bednyakov/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Cracks in the NATO alliance regarding sanctions for Russia should President Vladimir Putin order troops into Ukraine are in large part based on energy supply concerns.

Why it matters: Russia holds tremendous leverage over some European countries because it provides roughly 40% of Europe's natural gas supply. In Germany, this figure is greater than 50%.