The U.S. and Iraq held an initial round of formal talks about ending the U.S.-led military mission in the country to fight against the Islamic State.
Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani announced Sunday that he had sponsored “the commencement of the first round of bilateral dialogue between Iraq and the United States of America to end the mission of the Coalition in Iraq,” according to a report from The Associated Press.
That statement was followed by one from the coalition, which said military officials will assess “the threat of Daesh (IS), operational and environmental requirements and Iraqi Security Force capabilities” and a higher military commission will “work to set the conditions to transition the mission in Iraq,” according to the report.
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While the initial talks come as U.S. forces have been under increased attacks in the region, including a drone attack in Jordan Sunday that killed three U.S. service members and injured 25 more, U.S. officials say that plans to end the mission in Iraq were first discussed last year and that the timing of the talks with Iraq were not related to the increased attacks.
The U.S. has had a strong military presence in Iraq since the 2003 invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein and overthrew his government. While U.S. combat forces departed the country at the end of 2011, thousands more returned to assist battered Iraqi forces in the fight against ISIS.
When U.S. forces began reentering the country that year, ISIS was in control of large swaths of Iraqi territory, though the U.S.-led coalition has since largely beaten back the terrorist group and helped Iraq’s government regain stability.
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In the years since the country regained the lost territory from ISIS, Iraqi officials have periodically called for the withdrawal of U.S. forces, according to the AP report, most notably after a January 2020 U.S. airstrike killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis near the Baghdad airport.
U.S. officials told The Associated Press that there have been talks about setting up a committee to decide on ending the coalition mission in Iraq, where the U.S. currently has an estimated 2,500 troops.
Those talks have gained momentum in recent months as U.S. troops have launched increased strikes against Iran-backed paramilitary groups in the country, which some Iraqi officials have claimed violates the country’s sovereignty.
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The White House did not immediately respond to a Fox News Digital request for comment.