Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi yesterday received United States Central Command (CENTCOM) chief, General Kenneth McKenzie, in Baghdad and agreed to hold another meeting of the American and Iraqi technical military committees to finalise plans to end the US combat presence by the end of the year.
A statement issued by Al-Kadhimi’s office quoted him as saying that “the support and training” received by the Iraqi forces “had been an essential element in raising the security forces’ capabilities” in a way that enabled the government to move in its relationship with the international coalition, to the stage of ending combat missions”.
The statement quoted General McKenzie as saying that the decision to handover the coalition’s leadership to Major General John Brennan who will succeed Lieutenant General Paul Calvert, is one of the steps to achieving this transition.
General McKenzie stressed that reducing the US military presence will not weaken America’s commitment to the broader strategic relationship with Iraq.
Last July, US President Joe Biden announced that his country would conclude its combat mission in Iraq by the end of this year and begin a new phase of military cooperation with Baghdad.
There are currently about 2,500 US troops in Iraq supporting the country’s soldiers in their fight against Daesh and protecting its vital oil facilities.