Thousands of US forces to leave Iraq 'within days'
A reduced number of American military personnel will remain to provide support to Iraqi authorities, the prime minister said in a speech to mark the 100th anniversary of the Iraqi military.
“As a result of the continuous strategic dialogue with the United States, more than half of the forces will withdraw in the coming days, and only hundreds of them will remain for cooperation in training, rehabilitation, armament and technical support,” Al-Kadhimi said.
The Iraqi army is prepared to protect the land and preserve the dignity of its citizens, he added, warning Iraq will no longer be a “playground for regional or global conflicts”.
“It is really unfortunate that Iraq has turned into an arena to liquidate international and regional issues,” he added.
Iraq’s parliament recently voted on a resolution demanding an end to foreign military presence in the country.
The PM’s remarks come following moves by outgoing US President Donald Trump to withdraw forces from across the region.
In November, the Pentagon announced the US will reduce troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan by mid-January, asserting that the decision fulfills Trump’s pledge to bring forces home from America’s long wars.
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Under the accelerated pullout, the US will cut the number of troops in Afghanistan from more than 4,500 to 2,500, and in Iraq from about 3,000 to 2,500, it said at the time.
In Iraq, the US embassy and other foreign military and diplomatic sites have been targeted by dozens of rockets and roadside bomb attacks since the autumn of 2019.
Western and Iraqi officials have blamed hardline groups, including the pro-Iran faction Kataeb Hezbollah.
In October, these groups agreed to an indefinite truce but violations of the ceasefire have been recorded since.