Iraq doesn’t need US combat troops: Mustafa

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Baghdad

Iraq’s prime minister says his country no longer requires American combat troops to fight the Islamic State group, but a formal time frame for their redeployment will depend on the outcome of talks with US officials this week.

Mustafa al-Kadhimi said Iraq will still ask for US training and military intelligence gathering. His comments came in an interview with The AP ahead of a planned trip to Washington, where he’s slated to meet with President Joe Biden on Monday for a fourth round of strategic talks.

“There is no need for any foreign combat forces on Iraqi soil,” said al-Kadhimi, falling short of announcing a deadline for a US troop departure.

Iraq’s security forces and army are capable of defending the country without US-led coalition troops, he said.

But al-Kadhimi said any withdrawal schedule would be based on the needs of Iraqi forces, who have shown themselves capable in the last year of conducting independent anti-IS missions.

“The war against IS and the readiness of our forces require a special timetable, and this depends on the negotiations that we will conduct in Washington,” he said.

The US and Iraq agreed in April that the US transition to a train-and-advise mission meant the US combat role would end but they didn’t settle on a timetable for completing that transition.—Agencies

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