Iraqi PM says only hundreds of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said on Tuesday that only hundreds of U.S. troops would remain in Iraq after the withdrawal of half of them from the country.

Al-Kadhimi said, during a televised speech on the eve of the centenary of the Iraqi Army Day, the U.S. troops’ withdrawal came due to “the ongoing strategic dialogue between Iraq and the United States that yield in the withdrawal of batches of U.S. troops during the past months. The withdrawal of more than half of them will complete in the coming days.”

“Only hundreds of them will remain, for cooperation in the fields of training, rehabilitation, armament, and technical support (for Iraqi forces),” al-Kadhimi said.

The withdrawal of the U.S. forces “was based on the readiness of the Iraqi forces to protect the land of Iraq and preserve the dignity of its people,” al-Kadhimi said.

Al-Kadhimi also said that Iraq will not be an arena for regional or international conflicts and will not allow its lands to be used to settle scores between countries.

“The Iraqi army is ready to fulfill its duty, and on the day of our brave army, we announce that 2021 will be the year of Iraqi accomplishments at all levels,” he added.

The relation between Baghdad and Washington has witnessed a tension since Jan. 3, 2020 after a U.S. drone struck a convoy at Baghdad airport, which killed Qassem Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq’s paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.

The tension pushed the two sides to hold several sessions of strategic dialogue starting from last June 12, and the United States pledged to cut its troops in the country.