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Timeline for foreign troops' withdrawal from Iraq 'a must'

Iraqi lawmakers swearing an oath as parliament reopens [Getty]

Date of publication: 1 March, 2018

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US and other troops were invited back into Iraq after the Islamic State group seized large chunks of the country, but politicians want to know when they'll be going home.

Iraq's parliament on Thursday demanded that a timeline be set for the withdrawal of foreign troops based in the country.

"Parliament voted on a decision to thank friendly nations for their support in defeating Islamic State and at the same time to demand the government set a timeline for the withdrawal of foreign troops," said Husham al-Suhai, a coalition politician, according to Reuters.

"It is up to the government to decide how long we need them here - one year, two years, it's up to them," he added.

A US-led coalition was established in 2014 to fight the Islamic State group, which had captured Mosul and about a third of Iraq's territory.

In December, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the Islamic State group after driving it out of its last positions in the country - but the group has mounted frequent deadly insurgent attacks ever since.

The Islamic State group's de facto Iraqi capital, Mosul, fell in July after an intense campaign to weed the group out of the city.

Areas previously controlled by the group were devastated as a result of the years-long military efforts.

About 3.2 million people are displaced due to the campaign to recapture territory, according to the UN. And $88.2 billion is needed for reconstruction, according to Iraq's planning minister. A recent donors' conference saw just $30 billion pledged.

The US had previously pulled out of Iraq in 2011, following the Obama administration's failure to secure a deal to extend the US time in the country.

In 2014, President Obama ordered the redeployment of US forces to Iraq, at the invitation of the Iraqi government, after the Islamic State group abruptly seized large swathes of territory.

In January this year, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the US could not make the same mistake of withdrawing troops only to have them return again.

Tillerson added that the US would maintain an "open-ended" military presence in Syria to counter the Islamic State group and others.

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