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Biden, Iraqi prime minister expected to announce end to U.S. combat mission

President Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi are expected to announce Monday an agreement to reduce the number of U.S. combat troops in Iraq, according to a senior administration official.

The official told reporters the two leaders the withdrawal plan will be detailed in a “broader communique” following an Oval Office meeting, according to a transcript of the call released by the White House.

Under the agreement, the U.S. will shift from helping Iraq defeat the Islamic State to an advisory and training role. That role will also be spelled out in the communique, the official said.

“As this evolution continues, and as we formally end the combat mission and make clear that there are no American forces with a combat role in the country, Iraq has requested, and we very much agree, that they need continued training; support with logistics, intelligence, advisory capacity building — all of which will continue,” the official said, according to the transcript.

The official added that the Iraqi forces were “battle-tested” and “capable” of protecting their country. But keeping the troops in Iraq in an advisory capacity shows that the administration still recognizes the Islamic State as a threat, the official said.

The move shows the Biden administration still recognizes the Islamic state as a threat. Last week, the Islamic State claimed a bombing in Baghdad that killed at least 35 people.

The attack just reinforces the need for the U.S. to act in an advisory role in Iraq, the official said on the call.

Still, the Islamic State has lost all of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria in 2019. U.S. forces remained in an acknowledgment of the threat the Islamic State still poses.

It is not known how many of the 2,500 troops currently in Iraq will remain. But Mr. Biden and Mr. al-Kadhimi will discuss a consolidation and redeployment strategy, the official said.

Over the next five months, the official said he anticipates “adjustments” and changes of command as the American troops adjust to their new role.

Mr. al-Kadhimi told the Associated Press in an interview published over the weekend that there is “no need” for foreign combat forces to remain in Iraq.

The move is the latest by Mr. Biden to end America’s involvement in the Middle East. Earlier this year, he announced plans to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan by Aug. 31.

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