Iraq PM: No US Combat Troops to Stay in Iraq After IS

If the two nations agree on terms, Iraq would join Afghanistan in having U.S. troops stationed there for the foreseeable future.

The talks over a longer-term USA presence has greatly concerned Iran, which in turn is increasing support to some of Iraq's Shiite militia forces, said Jafar al-Husseini, a representative from Kataib Hezbollah, an Iraqi Shiite militia group with close ties to Iran.

Sylvia told reporters during a media round table on Wednesday that the goal of the mission in Iraq was to train, advise and assist their Iraqi counterparts. He said the troop levels would be "several thousand ... similar to what we have now, maybe a little more".

According to a US official, Secretary of Defense James Mattis has personally engaged Iraqi officials over "what the long-term USA presence would look like".

Mosul is Iraq's second most populous city, and is deemed the ISIS de facto capital in Iraq.

Any forces who remained would continue to be designated as advisers for the same reason, the Iraqi government official had told the AP. Since the USA combat mission ended in 2014, Afghan forces have managed to secure control just over 60 percent of the country.

An Iraqi official told Stars and Stripes about five bases near Mosul and the Iraq-Syria border where it would make the most sense to station United States soldiers. That assault bogged down in the dense urban terrain, where hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped by the fighting.

The Iraqi army said on April 30 that it aimed to finish the battle for Mosul, the largest city to have fallen under Islamic State control in both Iraq and Syria, this month. In addition to Mosul, ISOF had led the Iraqi military campaigns to reclaim the Iraqi cities of Fallujah, Ramadi, Tikrit, Hit, among other places. During the battle for Mosul, UAVs began appearing in the air in and around the city, and it was quickly determined that they did not belong to friendly forces.

A cross consecrated in the ISIS-devastated town
A cross consecrated in the ISIS-devastated town

Jawdat added that Federal Police forces also besieged the militant-held al-Haramat region, and four kilometers close to the Fifth Bridge in western Mosul.

Separately, Captain Ali al-Bahadoli of Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) said government forces had lobbed a barrage of missiles at an area west of Mosul, killing scores of Daesh militants.

The Iraqis went from a Baghdad-based force unable to project combat power to projecting it to northern Iraq. Iraqis were eager to end what some saw as an occupation, and many Americans wanted to see an end to the then-eight year war. "They knocked on our door but we did not open it". How the Iraqi government handles rebuilding the Sunni and Kurdish-dominated city of of Mosul, for example, could either mitigate sectarian tensions or create room for another terror group to emerge.

For those battling ISIS, it will be a choice of "victory or martyrdom", the spokesman for the Iraqi ministry of defense stated.

Moreover, there is no guarantee that U.S. troops largely stationed on isolated bases can reduce Iranian influence, which could come in the form of militias stationed beside their Iraqi counterparts.

Jafar al-Husseini, a representative from the Kataib Hezbollah militia - who are closely linked to Iran - said the army and paramilitaries were strong enough to defend Iraq themselves.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is in talks with the Trump administration to keep American troops in Iraq after the fight against the Islamic State group in the country is concluded, according to a USA official and an official from the Iraqi government.

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