Middle east

Iraqi Adviser Says Over Half of US Advisers Already Left, No Combat Units Remain

BAGHDAD (Sputnik) – Some 2,700 US military advisers out of 5,200 have already left Iraq amid the ongoing pullout, any foreign troops remaining in the Middle Eastern state are there to advise Iraqi troops and not conduct any fighting, Hussein Allawi, adviser for security sector reform to the Iraqi Prime Minister’s Office, told Sputnik on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Iraqi and US officials held the third round of strategic talks in virtual format on the status of US-led coalition troops in the Middle Eastern country. The sides agreed that there should be no foreign bases in Iraq and that the US-led coalition should press ahead with pulling troops out, with the withdrawal timetable yet to be finalized by a coordination group formed last year. The Iraqi prime minister additional ordered a technical committee to be set up for overseeing the negotiations process.

“The American side reduced the number of its troops, 2,700 American advisers left Iraq, and yesterday the US said that there will be no troops in Iraq in the future … right now there are no foreign combat units in Iraq, all military personnel present are advisers who share information with Iraqi personnel, help structure the Iraqi army and provide support to the Iraqi air force when asked to do so by the Iraqi military command,” Allawi said.

The adviser ruled out that Washington could fail to stick to its withdrawal commitments, saying that “no one can violate Iraq’s sovereignty.” The current US involvement was the consequence of the 2014 events when terrorists invaded from neighboring Syria and took over much of the north, including Mosul.

During Wednesday’s talks, after discussing security matters, the US and Iraqi sides moved on to matters of trade, economy and culture, including the return of of cultural artifacts and archives to the country, Allawi said.

In August last year, the sides agreed to pull all foreign troops out of Iraq within three years. In October, a coordination group was formed that will set up a timetable for the withdrawal.

The issue of pulling foreign forces out of Iraq was raised by the Iraqi parliament in early 2020, when the US killed senior Iranian special forces commander Qasem Soleimani near the Baghdad airport in an airstrike without telling the Iraqi side. Lawmakers voted in support of a resolution calling for a total pullout. Since then, the US handed a number of military sites back over to Iraq, including airbases and army headquarters.

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