US combat troops to start leaving Iraq in October, Iraqi MP says

US combat troops to start leaving Iraq in October, Iraqi MP says
Though combat troops are to leave Iraq by the end of 2021, some military personnel will remain in the country to train and advise local forces, MP Badr Al-Zayadi said.
2 min read
16 September, 2021
The US invaded Iraq back in 2003 [Getty]

US combat troops will start leaving Iraq from early next month, an Iraqi lawmaker on parliament's Security and Defence Committee has told The New Arab's Arabic-language sister site.

The withdrawal will take place in stages, and is based on the deal Washington and Baghdad reached on the matter in July, Badr Al-Zayadi told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.

"On this coming 1 January, no American combat troops will be present [in Iraq]," Al-Zayadi said.

The US will continue conducting airstrikes on Iraq as part of the international coalition against the Islamic State (IS) group, the lawmaker said.

Washington will also continue to train and advise the Iraqi forces.

There are 2,500 American soldiers in Iraq at present. It was not immediately clear how many will remain in the training and advisory roles.

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Al-Zayadi said that the American forces will take their weaponry and equipment with them, to bases in Arab Gulf states."

However, an Iraqi general told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the Americans would "leave some of the important equipment that they used as a gift and a support for Iraq."

The general said some of the equipment would go to some units of the Peshmerga, which are the armed forces in Iraqi Kurdistan.

He cast doubt on the timeline Al-Zayadi gave for the withdrawal, saying that "the issue is shrouded in secrecy and high security precautions from the American forces."

He said the Harir base in Erbil, Ain Al-Asad base in Anbar, and Camp Victory in Baghdad would remain primary locations for US-led coalition troops.

Despite anxieties that a US withdrawal will mean a resurgence of IS or a further rise in the influence of pro-Iran militias, Mohammed Al-Sihoud of the State of Law political coalition told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that Iraq has grown "much stronger".

"The situation in Iraq nowadays is not like the situation in 2014, when the Islamic State group stormed the borders and seized control of provinces and cities, because of political problems and security failures... the need for foreign forces is no longer the same as in the past."

The US invaded Iraq in 2003, with combat troops remaining in the country for eight years. Baghdad invited them back to the country in 2014, when IS swept through swathes of the country.