Iraq PM: No US combat troops to stay in Iraq after IS

ISIL, which stands for Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, and is also known as ISIS, blamed US-led coalition forces for the air raid, according to a statement carried on its Amaq website.

A US official and an official from the Iraqi government told the AP this week that talks about keeping USA troops in Iraq were ongoing. Abadi maintains that the US troops already operating in his country, about 7,000, are merely acting as advisers, but many serve close to the front lines around Mosul and have played a much more active role in combat against ISIS than expected.

There is a "general understanding on both sides that it would be in the long-term interests" of Washington and Baghdad to keep a "continued presence" within Iraq's borders, a United States official told Stars and Stripes.

Abadi moderated his comments saying that the only USA troops who should remain would provide training assistance to the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) to maintain "full readiness" in case of "future security challenges".

During a congressional hearing in March, Joseph Votel, head of U.S. Central Command, said the fight for Mosul had left 774 Iraqi security forces dead and 4,600 wounded.

Any forces who remained would continue to be designated as advisers for the same reason, the Iraqi government official said.

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The Trump administration is poised to double down on US commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, all but ensuring continued American military involvement in both countries for years to come. The numbers went down eventually to 40,000 before the complete withdrawal in 2011 under the Obama administration.

A USA -led global coalition is providing key air and ground support to the offensive on Mosul, Islamic State's de facto capital in Iraq, which started in October.

The ISIS militants are engaged in fierce fighting against the advancing Iraqi forces in the industrial area, as well in 17 Tamuz district where the elite Rapid Response Team and the Haramat district are tasked with the Federal Police, Rudaw's war reporter Farhad Dolamari reported from Mosul.

Last October, the Iraqi army - backed by a USA -led air coalition - began a wide-ranging operation to retake Mosul from ISIL, which the terrorist group overran in mid-2014.

The US troops would be stationed at former US bases in the cities Balad and Baghdad, a second defense official said, but that list could expand to several other smaller bases. The UN has said it believes that close to 420,000 people might be trapped in the densely populated Old City of Mosul. He added, "I think that the government of Iraq realizes their very complex fight, and they're going to need the assistance of the coalition even beyond Mosul".

  • Megan Austin