In March, Pope Francis made an historic visit to Iraq, praying among ruined churches in Mosul, a former IS stronghold, and meeting with the influential Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in the holy city of Najaf.
The U.S. and Iraq have been widely expected to use the face-to-face meeting to announce plans for the end of the combat mission, and al-Kadhimi before his trip to Washington made clear that he believes it’s time for the U.S. to wind down the combat mission.
“There is no need for any foreign combat forces on Iraqi soil,” al-Kadhimi told The Associated Press.
The U.S. troop presence has stood at about 2,500 since late last year when former President Donald Trump ordered a reduction from 3,000.
The announcement to end the U.S. combat mission in Iraq comes as the U.S. is in the final stages of ending its war in Afghanistan, nearly 20 years after President George W. Bush launched the war in response to the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States.
The U.S. mission of training and advising Iraqi forces has its most recent origins in former President Barack Obama’s decision in 2014 to send troops back to Iraq. The move was made in response to the Islamic State group’s takeover of large portions of western and northern Iraq and a collapse of Iraqi security forces that appeared to threaten Baghdad. Obama had fully withdrawn U.S. forces from Iraq in 2011, eight years after the U.S. invasion.
Originally Appeared Here