Iraq, US in talks to keep American troop presence after IS

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14 May, 2017

Officials from both countries on Thursday reportedly said talks were ongoing regarding maintaining United States combat troops in Iraq after Daesh is ousted, but Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement on Twitter on Friday that no USA troops would stay on.

A USA official and an official from the Iraqi government told the AP this week that talks about keeping U.S. troops in Iraq were ongoing.

Iraqi forces pushed further into Mosul from the north on the second day of a new push to speed up the almost seven-month attempt to dislodge Daesh, commanders said today.

There are now almost 7,000 USA troops in Iraq, many of whom are there on temporary tours or fall under other classifications that allow them to remain publicly unacknowledged. The bill would fund the government until the end of September 2017.

"We want to maintain that partnership with Afghanistan and we want to ensure that Afghanistan reaches its potential, so that's the objective of the strategy", Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations Theresa Whelan told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday.

Daesh was probably expecting the attack, he said, "but they can't defend everywhere", indicating that the militants who number some 1,000-2,000 men left were being outnumbered and overwhelmed by the nearly 100,000 troops arrayed against them.

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"I imagine we'll be in this fight for a while and we'll stand by each other", Mattis said.

The Iraqi forces made significant gains over the recent months and now the militants are besieged in the northwestern corner of Mosul which includes the historic Old City centre.

A separate 2013 study found that the Iraq War cost $1.7 trillion, with an additional $490 billion owed to war veterans, noting that the expenses could grow to around $4 trillion over the next four decades, counting interest. That is down from the Iraq War high of about 170,000 USA troops in 2007. The numbers were wound down eventually to 40,000 before the complete withdrawal in 2011 under Obama.

The U.S. intervention against the Islamic State group, launched in 2014, was originally cast as an operation that would largely be fought from the skies with a minimal footprint on Iraqi soil. Since the US combat mission ended in 2014, Afghan forces have managed to secure control just over 60 percent of the country.

The US military did not have any estimates of how many troops could be stationed in Iraq.

Has the rule of engagement changed in Iraq? He was referring to Islamic State by an Arabic acronym.


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