The US Department of Defense (Pentagon) held a closed press conference on the issue, attended by senior Pentagon, State and Army officials.
“Let me be clear, the HMC meeting did not include a discussion on the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq,” the senior Pentagon official said at the meeting, emphasizing that the HMC was a process of the security cooperation meeting between the two countries in August 2023.
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“Our Iraqi partners have assured us of their commitment to work together to shape the future U.S. military presence and ensure the lasting defeat of ISIL,” the Pentagon official said, noting that the United States and its coalition partners are in Iraq at the invitation of the Iraqi government to fight ISIL.
Senior US officials declined to respond to reporters’ questions about Iraqi statements that “the talks will set a timetable for the end of the US-led coalition’s military mission and the gradual reduction of coalition advisers,” but said they could not give a timetable.
“The U.S. and Iraq will continue to work together to shape the future U.S. military presence and ensure that Iraq leads the way in the lasting defeat of Daesh,” senior officials said, noting that the talks are just beginning.
The international coalition against DAESH was established in September 2014 with the participation of 85 countries and organizations.
“We have reached an agreement with the US to reduce the number of advisors to the anti-DAESH coalition”
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said on January 5, “As a government, we are in the process of starting to run the bilateral commission to completely end the presence of coalition forces. Nothing will be neglected to protect Iraq’s sovereignty. We reiterate our firm position to end the presence of coalition forces in Iraq, which have no justification for their presence in Iraq.”
In a written statement made by the Iraqi Foreign Ministry today, it was stated that the negotiation rounds between the US and Iraqi governments since August 2023 were successfully concluded and the HMC was established to assess the threat posed by DAESH and operational requirements and to increase the capacity of Iraqi security forces.
The statement said the committee “will be tasked with establishing a timetable for coalition advisors to remain in Iraq, initiating a gradual drawdown of advisors and ending the coalition’s military mission.”
The US currently has about 2,500 troops in Iraq.