Iraq prepares to close down US-led coalition's mission - PM

January 6, 2024 1:40 pm

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani speaks during a press conference [Source: Reuters]

The Iraqi government is beginning the process to remove the U.S.-led international military coalition from the country, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani’s office said on Friday.

The U.S. has 900 troops in Syria and 2,500 in Iraq on a mission it says advises and assists local forces trying to prevent a resurgence of Islamic State, which in 2014 seized large parts of both countries before being defeated.

Sudani’s statement came a day after a U.S. strike killed a militia leader in Baghdad, prompting anger among Iran-aligned groups which demanded the government end the presence of the coalition in Iraq.

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“Government is setting the date for the start of the bilateral committee to put arrangements to end the presence of the international coalition forces in Iraq permanently,” a statement from the prime minister’s office said.

The committee would include representatives of the military coalition, a government official said.

The U.S. military launched Thursday’s strike in retaliation against recent attacks on U.S. personnel, the Pentagon said.

Iran-aligned militia groups in Iraq and Syria oppose Israel’s campaign in the Gaza Strip and hold the U.S. partly responsible.

Iraqi PM Sudani has limited control over some Iran-backed factions, whose support he needed to win power a year ago and who now form a powerful bloc in his governing coalition.