President Joe Biden announced on Monday that the U.S. will end its combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021.
The announcement follows closely after Biden announced the U.S. would remove its military forces from Afghanistan by the end of August after nearly 20 years in the country following 9/11. About 2,500 soldier currently reside in Iraq.
“Our shared fight against ISIS is critical for the stability of the region, and our counterterrorism cooperation will continue even as we shift to this new phase we are going to be talking about,” Biden said, according to The Washington Times.
“Our role in Iraq will be … just to be available, to continue to train, to assist, to help, and to deal with ISIS as it arises. But we’re not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission,” the added.
“Today our relationship is stronger than ever. Our co-operation is for the economy, the environment, health, education, culture and more,” Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said from the White House on Monday.
Kadhimi “has insisted no foreign combat troops are needed in Iraq,” according to the BBC.
The U.S. has kept military forces within Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003. Most forces left in 2011, though more returned to deal with Islamic State forces that later arose to power.
The move will mark the first time U.S. Armed Forces have been out of both Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001, leaving behind a military presence of two decades in the Middle East.