US concludes combat mission in Iraq as Biden meets with Iraqi prime minister

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US concludes combat mission in Iraq as Biden meets with Iraqi prime minister
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US concludes combat mission in Iraq as Biden meets with Iraqi prime minister
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The president, while meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi Monday afternoon, said the U.S. role there will be focused on training and assisting to combat the Islamic State group.

“Our shared fight against ISIS is critical for the stability of our region and our counterterrorism cooperation will continue, even as we shift to this new phase we’re going to be talking about,” Biden said.

A U.S. official told ABC News Thursday the change in mission is more of a semantic one and the number of U.S. troops in Iraq will not dramatically differ as they shift their emphasis to training and assisting.

As with anywhere around the world, the official added, U.S. troops reserve the right to defend themselves too.

Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Fareed Yasseen told ABC News last week that Iraqi forces will continue to request direct U.S. assistance for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and training.

Several U.S. officials have said the 2,500 U.S. troops in Iraq are already largely in that kind of advise-and-assist role.

Both sides have repeatedly committed to U.S. troops exiting once the coalition to defeat ISIS completes its work, essentially kicking the can down a long road now to appease political pressure in Iraq, fueled by Iranian-backed factions and militias and U.S. air strikes against them.

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