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People's Daily Online

Withdrawal of U.S. troops to follow timetable decided by U.S.-Iraqi dialogue: military spokesman

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 11:20, April 25, 2021

BAGHDAD, April 24 (Xinhua) -- The full withdrawal of the U.S.-led coalition forces from Iraq will follow a timetable that will be decided by the ongoing U.S.-Iraqi dialogue, the state-sun Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported Saturday, citing a spokesman of the Iraqi military.

Yahia Rasoul, spokesman of the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, told INA that a committee formed by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, also commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, is "managing this issue within the strategic dialogue rounds."

Iraq does not need (foreign) combat forces to fight with Iraqi forces, except for training and equipment, the Iraqi spokesman noted.

Rasoul's comment comes a few days after Commander of U.S. Central Command Kenneth McKenzie told U.S. lawmakers that he does not foresee a full U.S. withdrawal from Iraq.

"That move is not contemplated ... I don't see us withdrawing completely from Iraq in the future," said Mckenzie, top commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East.

On April 7, a joint statement released by the United States and Iraq after a strategic dialogue round via video teleconference said the two sides agreed to redeploy the remaining U.S.-led coalition combat troops outside Iraq in the light of the increasing capacity of the Iraqi security forces for fighting against the extremist Islamic State militants.

"The mission of U.S. and coalition forces has now transitioned to one focused on training and advisory tasks, thereby allowing for the redeployment of any remaining combat forces from Iraq, with the timing to be established in upcoming technical talks," the joint statement said.

The relations between Iraq and the United States were strained after Jan. 3, 2020, when a U.S. drone struck a convoy at Baghdad airport, which killed Qassem Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq's paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.

The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution on Jan. 5, 2020, requiring the government to end the presence of foreign forces in Iraq.

The U.S. airstrike also pushed unidentified militias to launch a series of rocket and mortar attacks on Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops across the country, as well as the U.S. embassy in the Green Zone in central Baghdad.

The two sides have launched rounds of strategic dialogue since June 12, 2020, during which the United States pledged to cut its troops in Iraq.

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