BAGHDAD, Iraq (NBC) – Iraqi authorities say that U.S.-led forces have ended their combat mission in Iraq, a move that transfers all remaining American troops into a training and advising role.
The top U.S. commander for the Middle East said Thursday that the United States will keep the current 2,500 troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future.
Marine General Frank McKenzie said in an interview with the Associated Press that despite the shift by U.S. forces to a non-combat role, they will still provide air support and other military aid for Iraq’s fight against the Islamic State militants.
President Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi sealed an agreement in July to formally end the U.S. combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021.
Western security and diplomatic officials say that calling the shift a withdrawal is misleading because it changes little in terms of the number of forces based in Iraq.
The U.S. has kept around 2,500 troops in Iraq since 2020.
It began its mission in 2014 as part of an international effort to defeat ISIS, which had taken over vast areas of Iraq and Syria.