In Baghdad, Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin pledges continued US troop presence in battle in opposition to ISIL.
US Secretary of Protection Lloyd Austin has made an unannounced journey to Iraq, throughout which he mentioned the USA is dedicated to maintaining its army presence within the nation and persevering with the battle in opposition to ISIL (ISIS).
The Pentagon chief’s journey to Baghdad on Tuesday got here simply earlier than the 20-year anniversary of the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, which led to the deaths of tens of hundreds of Iraqi civilians, toppled leader Saddam Hussein and helped unleash forces that paved the way in which for the rise of ISIL.
The US withdrew its forces in 2011, however the administration of former President Barack Obama despatched hundreds of troopers again into Iraq and neighbouring Syria three years later to bolster the battle in opposition to ISIL.
At present, the US has 2,500 troopers in Iraq and 900 in Syria to assist advise and help native forces in combating ISIL, which in 2014 seized swathes of territory in each international locations.
Regardless of their territorial defeat in Iraq in late 2017, ISIL fighters are nonetheless launching assaults within the nation as well as in Syria. ISIL assaults have killed and wounded dozens of Iraqi troopers in latest months.
“We’re centered on the mission of defeating Daesh [ISIL], and we’re right here for no different goal,” Austin mentioned. “Any threats or assaults on our forces solely undermine that mission,” he added, apparently referring to Iran-backed fighters who’ve been blamed for assaults on amenities housing US troops in Iraq.
Austin, probably the most senior official in President Joe Biden’s administration to go to Iraq lately, was the final commanding basic of US forces there after the invasion.
“US forces are prepared to stay in Iraq on the invitation of the federal government of Iraq,” Austin informed reporters after assembly Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani and Defence Minister Thabet Muhammad Al-Abbasi.
He mentioned these forces are working in a non-combat and advisory position in assist of the “Iraqi-led battle in opposition to terrorism”.
“The US will proceed to strengthen and broaden our partnership in assist of Iraqi safety, stability and sovereignty,” he mentioned.
Al-Sudani’s workplace, in the meantime, mentioned he and Austin mentioned cooperation between their international locations within the battle in opposition to ISIL.
The prime minister reaffirmed his authorities’s “keenness to strengthen and consolidate relations with the USA of America at numerous ranges and fields”, it mentioned.