Newspaper: Iraqi commander confirms U.S. forces staying in Iraq in 2018

FILE PHOTO: U.S. forces are seen at the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) headquarters after it was hit by Turkish airstrikes in Mount Karachok near Malikiya, Syria April 25, 2017. REUTERS/ Rodi Said/File Photo

Baghdad ( United States. forces are not leaving Iraq in 2018, a newspaper quoted a senior source at the Iraqi joint security command as saying.

The London-based the New Arab quoted a senior general within the Iraqi Joint Operations Command saying “there is no room for discussing U.S. troops’ exit”.

According to the commander, “the situation in Iraq is still fragile, and it is not possible to ask the withdrawal of coalition forces in general, and the U.S. forces in particular”, adding that “speaking about the departure of foreign troops in the new year is incorrect, and their presence is necessary”.

He added that 2018 will be “important and sensitive for Iraq”.

On his part, Nayef al-Shamri, deputy chairman of the Iraqi parliament’s security committee, told the newspaper that “Iraq does not need the presence of U.S. ground forces or military bases”. He said “U.S. forces had no actual presence in battles against the Islamic State, only stopping at air and logistical support,” as he put it.

Iraqi officials have regularly said the U.S.-led coalition forces, which supported Iraqi operations against IS since 2014, was not engaged in ground combat.

The Pentagon said in November it maintains nearly 8000 troops in Iraq.

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