FILE - In this may 20, 2021, photo maritime Gen. Frank McKenzie, the head of U.S. Main Command, arrives in Baghdad. (Lolita C. Baldor/AP)
The optimal U.S. Commander because that the Middle eastern said Thursday that the United says will save the existing 2,500 troops in Iraq because that the foreseeable future, and he warned that he expects increasing assaults on U.S. And also Iraqi personnel by Iranian-backed militias determined to acquire American forces out.

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Marine Gen. Open minded McKenzie said in one interview v The connected Press in ~ the Pentagon that in spite of the shift by U.S. Forces to a non-combat duty in Iraq, they will still provide air support and also other military aid for Iraq’s fight against the Islamic State.

Noting the Iranian-backed militias want all Western forces out that Iraq, he stated an continuous uptick in violence may continue through December.

“They actually desire all U.S. Pressures to leave, and all U.S. Forces are not going to leave,” that said, adding that together a result, “that may provoke a response as we acquire later right into the finish of the month.”

The Iraqi government previously Thursday announced the conclusion of speak on ending the U.S. Combat mission versus IS. U.S. Forces have been greatly in one advisory role for part time, so the announced transition changes little. The announcement reflects a July decision by the Biden management to end the U.S. Combat mission in Iraq through Dec. 31.


Iraqi military still dependence on US, coalition military in ISIS fight: watchdogWhile Iraqi Security pressures remain dependent on Coalition support, assaults by both ISIS and Iranian-backed militias are down considerably in the last quarter as the U.S. Prepares to finish its combat mission in Iraq top top Dec. 31.
“We’ve drawn down native bases us didn’t need, we’ve made the harder to gain at us. But the Iraqis still want united state to be there. They still desire the presence, lock still desire the engagement,” stated McKenzie. “So as lengthy as they want it, and we have the right to mutually agree that’s the instance — we’re walk to it is in there.”

He stated he believes Islamic State militants will proceed to it is in a danger in Iraq and that the team will “keep recreating itself, maybe under a various name.” The key, the said, will be to ensure the IS is not able to coalesce with other elements approximately the globe and also become increasingly strong and dangerous.

America attacked Iraq in 2003, and also at the peak allude had more than 170,000 troops battling insurgents in the country and later functioning to train and advise Iraqi forces. All U.S. Pressures were withdrawn at the finish of 2011, yet just three years later, American troops were ago to assist Iraq beat ago the Islamic State group, which had actually swept across the border from Syria to gain regulate of a big swath the the country.

The U.S. Existence in Iraq has actually long been a flash allude for Tehran, but tensions spiked after ~ a January 2020 U.S. Drone strike near the Baghdad airport killed a peak Iranian general. In retaliation, Iran introduced a barrage that missiles in ~ al-Asad airbase, where U.S. Troops to be stationed. An ext than 100 company members suffered traumatic mind injuries in the blasts.


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More recently, Iranian proxies are thought responsible because that an assassination attempt last month top top Iraq’s prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi. And officials have actually said they believe Iran was behind the October drone strike at the army outpost in southerly Syria where American troops room based. No U.S. Personnel were killed or injured in the attack.

“I think an assault to kill the element minister is a pretty far-reaching event,” McKenzie said. “I think it is a signpost the the desperation the they’re under ideal now.”

McKenzie, who has headed U.S. Main Command for virtually three years and traveled extensively throughout the region, painted a picture that reflected the current upheaval in Afghanistan, whereby U.S. Troops departed at the end of August.

On Afghanistan,McKenzie claimed the al-Qaida extremist group has get an impressive slightlysince U.S. Pressures left and that the judgment Taliban leaders room divided about their 2020 pledge to break ties with the group. He said the exit of the U.S military and intelligence assets indigenous the nation has made it “very hard, not impossible” come ensure the neither al-Qaida no one the Islamic State group’s Afghanistan affiliate deserve to pose a risk to the unified States.

Like the Taliban’s long campaign to acquire Americans out of Afghanistan, Iran and also its proxies have fought to gain the U.S. The end of Iraq and also the broader Middle East.

“Iran quiet pursues a vision that ejecting us,” that said. “And they check out the principal battleground because that that together being in Iraq. And also I believe they are under the view that they deserve to increase friction in Iraq to wherein we will leave.”

Iran, he said, trust that project won’t influence the atom negotiations the were long stalled but are currently restarting. But, the said, “I think that a dangerous place for the Iranians come maintain, because I think they’re no going to be able to decouple those 2 things.”

McKenzie stated that together NATO starts to increase its presence in Iraq together planned, the U.S. Will refine its force there. And the full U.S. Pressure presence will count on future agreements v Iraq’s government.

The U.S. Troops in Syria, currently numbering about 900, will continue to advise and assist Syrian rebel pressures in the fight against IS, McKenzie said. He claimed it’s no clear exactly how much longer that will certainly be necessary however said, “I think we space measurably closer 보다 we were a couple of year ago. I still think we have actually a methods to go.”

More broadly, McKenzie listed that the U.S. Troop presence across the Middle east has considerably dropped due to the fact that last year, when it peaked amid tensions v Iran, at as lot as 80,000. The U.S. Has identified China and also Russia as the top national security threats, labeling China as America’s “pacing challenge,” and also has looked come focus much more effort and also assets in the Pacific.

In its recent review the the positioning of U.S. Forces about the world, the Pentagon said tiny about remove or repositioning troops in the center East. McKenzie and other top army leaders have long worried the the U.S. Military is concentrated in too few locations in the center East and also must disperse much more to rise security.

“We think it is essential to work with our partners in the region to current a more facility targeting problem to Iran,” he said, including that U.S. Will look at various other bases and also opportunities to relocate troops roughly to attain that goal.

McKenzie stated he is an especially concerned by Iran’s breakthrough of ballistic and also cruise missiles and armed drones.

“And for this reason those things are really concerning come me because they proceed to develop them,” he said. “And they present no indications of abating in their study in this field, and also their fielding of brand-new and significantly lethal and capable weapons.”


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