The US military is beginning a “new phase” in Iraq and will no longer be involved in a combat mission by year’s end, President Joe Biden said on Monday.
Addressing reporters before his Oval Office meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Biden said Washington and Baghdad would continue to cooperate on counterterrorism, mentioning in particular the threat posed by Daesh/ISIS.
Biden said the joint US-Iraqi operations against the terrorist group are “critical for the stability of the region.”
The US presence in Iraq will be shifting to focus on training, assisting and aiding Iraqi government forces, Biden said.
“We support strengthening Iraq's democracy and we're anxious to make sure the election goes forward in October,” added Biden.
Biden’s meeting with al-Kadhimi comes one week after a bombing claimed by Daesh/ISIS took the lives of 30 victims in Baghdad’s Sadr City district.
Daesh/ISIS terrorists have ramped up attacks in Iraq in recent months, particularly in the provinces of Kirkuk, Salahuddin, and Diyala.
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In 2017, Iraq declared victory over Daesh/ISIS by reclaiming all territories captured by terrorists since the summer of 2014, estimated to be about a third of the country’s total area.
The terror group, however, still has sleeper cells in Iraq and continues to launch sporadic attacks on civilians, security forces, infrastructure, and other targets.
Biden additionally announced the forthcoming delivery of 500,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses to Iraq, which he said would be delivered in a “couple weeks.”