US Troops May Stay In Iraq Long After ISIS Is Defeated
American troops may remain in Iraq after the fight with ISIS in the country concludes.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is in talks with the Trump administration to keep American troops stationed in the country, the Associated Press reports, though nothing has been finalized.
U.S. troops withdrew in 2011, which many say gave space for ISIS fighters to gain strength in the region.
Specific terms are still being discussed, but the understanding is that American troops would be stationed in Iraqi bases in and around Mosul, as well as along the border with Syria.
There are no current discussions to build U.S. bases in the country, as such plans would require thousands more personnel. The initial plan is to maintain the current numbers of personnel, around several thousand.
The news comes after close fighting alliances between Iraqi Security Forces and U.S. forces have been successful in expelling ISIS from the city of Mosul. The assault against the terrorist group has slowed in recent months, however, as the terrorist group has maintained a strong presence in densely populated western neighborhoods within the city.
“I imagine we’ll be in this fight for a while and we’ll stand by each other,” U.S. Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis, said in a statement.
Over the course of three years, the Iraqi and U.S. Coalition has been effective in retaking 65 percent of the territory once controlled by the extremist group.
Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said of the fighting that “the government of Iraq realizes their very complex fight, and they’re going to need the assistance of the coalition even beyond Mosul.”