US-led coalition forces to adopt support role in Iraq

US-led coalition in Iraq shifts mission from direct combat to support
2 min read
31 May, 2021
The US-led International Coalition forces have announced that they will move into a support and training role in Iraq.
The International Coalition currently has 3,000 troops in Iraq [Getty]

The US-led mission to combat the Islamic State (IS) in Iraq announced on Sunday that it will change its role from direct combat to support.

Coalition forces will be focused on providing support to the Iraqi army, and will no longer be engaged in combat missions. 

“The International Coalition confirmed that its mission in Iraq to defeat Daesh/ISIS has shifted from direct combat to additional support for Iraqi forces, including advice and training,” said International Coalition spokesperson Col. Wayne Marotto in a statement, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

The spokesman explained how the Iraqi army would now lead the fight against IS, while the US-led international coalition would continue to provide "intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, logistics, advice", in addition to other operational and strategic support. 

In addition to on the ground support, Marotto explained that the US would be providing air support for the Iraqi forces, "when requested".

According to Marotto, the coalition forces in Iraq are there with an "official invitation from the Iraqi government to eliminate terrorists and its remnants in specific parts of Iraq and Syria".

US forces in Iraq have come under increased pressure in recent months with military bases targeted by missile attacks. Many of the groups responsible for the attacks are believed to have links to Iran. 

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The most recent attack occurred one week ago, when a missile hit the Ain Al-Asad Air Base in Anbar province. There were no reported casualties. 

The International Coalition against IS currently has 3,000 troops in Iraq, with the vast majority, 2,500, being provided by the US. 

The continued presence of US forces in Iraq has angered a number of Iraqi lawmakers, who have demanded their withdrawal. 

This was confirmed by a January 2020 parliamentary decision that called for the withdrawal of US forces. 

A technical committee was formed on 7 April to establish mechanisms for the withdrawal, although the US side has yet to comment on the issue.