Coalition statement contradicts Baghdad, says US troops to remain in Iraq
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The US-led Coalition against the Islamic State (IS) on Monday stated its focus in Iraq would shift from combat operations to sustaining military gains against the extremist group.
The coalition statement revealed its troops would remain in Iraq as IS extremists “continue to pose a threat” to the country’s security and risk transition back into an insurgency.
“The Coalition will tailor its forces in consultation with the Iraqi partners in order to ensure the lasting defeat of [IS],” Brig. Gen. Jonathan Braga, the coalition's director of operations, said.
The statement came the same day as an Iraqi official claimed the US would be reducing its presence in the country since the “battle against Daesh (IS) has ended.”
The statement stressed, however, that “coalition commanders have noted [IS] is likely to transition back into an insurgency and still retains the ability to carry out lethal attacks and poses a potent threat to civilians and the stability of the region.”
According to the statement, the coalition will retain an appropriate amount of troops and advisory presence to continue training, advising and equipping partners in the fight against IS in Iraq, contradicting the Iraqi government’s spokesperson, Saad al-Hadithi.
The Iraqi official had told the Associated Press that US forces had started to withdraw from the country following IS’ defeat.
“Our enduring presence as invited guests in Iraq will shift to focus more on policing, border control and military capacity building,” the statement countered, quoting Braga.
“Continued Coalition presence in Iraq will be conditions-based, proportional to the need and in coordination with the government of Iraq,” it concluded.
Editing by Nadia Riva