‘We’re going to stay in Iraq,’ says top US commander

‘We’re going to stay in Iraq,’ says top US commander
General Frank McKenzie of the US Central Command said American troops will remain in Iraq to fight IS, apparently contradicting earlier US statements about a withdrawal.
2 min read
23 April, 2021
US troops remain in Iraq despite an Iraqi parliament call for their withdrawal [Getty]
The United States has no intention of withdrawing from Iraq, despite announcing a military drawdown in Afghanistan, the US newspaper Military Times reported the head of the US Central Command as saying on Thursday. 

“We’re going to be there, our NATO partners are going to be there, to finish the ISIS fight,” General Frank McKenzie told Military Times. “And we’re going to stay in Iraq.” 

McKenzie's announcement appears to contradict a joint statement from Washington and Baghdad earlier in April that remaining US troops would withdraw, but would keep providing training to local forces.

IS has made renewed threats to target the Iraqi capital after carrying out deadly attacks on a Baghdad market in January. The Iraqi government subsequently launched a counter-terrorism operation against the extremist group called "Revenge of the Martyrs."

The American commander's comments come as Iran-backed Iraqi militias who oppose Washington's presence in Iraq continue to launch rocket attacks on bases where US troops are present.

McKenzie said that Tehran still seeks to push the US presence out of the country.

“I think Iran still pursues a policy of attempting to eject the United States ― and indeed, our partners and allies ― from the region as well,” he said.

Three rockets crashed into a US military base at Baghdad's aiport on Friday, in the second such attack this week. Last Sunday, five rockets targeted another airbase north of the capital, wounding three Iraqi soldiers and two foreign contractors.

Though there was no immediate claim of responsibility for the strike, the US routinely blames Iran-backed factions for similar attacks. 

April 9 marked the 18th anniversary of the US capture of the Iraqi capital Baghdad in 2003.

Joe Biden's administration plans to pull the last 2,500 troops out of Afghanistan on September 20th.. 

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