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Biden and Iraqi PM to announce conclusion of U.S. combat mission in Iraq after White House meeting

The president is meeting with Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Monday in Washington.

Updated: July 26, 2021 - 12:22pm

President Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Monday will announce the conclusion of the U.S.'s military combat mission in Iraq.

The announcement is expected via joint communique, which will follow a meeting between the two leaders at the White House.

A senior administration official told reporters in a background call the discussion will center on "shifting to a new phase in the campaign in which we very much complete the combat mission against ISIS and shift to an advisory and training mission by the end of the year."

Despite the anticipated announcement, operations in Iraq are expected to remain mostly unchanged. There is also no clear demarcation between the role of a "combat" and "non-combat" troop. 

Defense Department Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters over the weekend, "All of our troops are capable of doing multiple things. And certainly, we task our combat troops, our troops that are capable of conducting combat operations with training, advising and assisting," referring to the difficulty in distinguishing between combat and non-combat. 

Last year, Iraq's parliament voted to kick U.S. troops out of the country following the Trump-ordered killing of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani. At present, about 2,500 U.S. troops remain in Iraq. 

"There is no need for any foreign combat forces on Iraqi soil," al-Kadhimi said recently.

Despite that sentiment, an ISIS-claimed bombing in Baghdad last week killed at least 35 people.

The administration official who spoke on background said the attack "reinforces the need that we both understand and recognize that Iraq continues to need support in this kind of advisory, training, capacity-building sense."

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