President Joe Biden announced that the combat mission in Iraq will come to end by the end of the year. Biden spoke to reporters in the Oval Office with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and said that U.S. troops will still remain in Iraq, but their mission will shift to focus on helping Iraqi forces as they continue to battle ISIS.
"I think things are going well. Our role in Iraq will be ... to be available to continue to train, to assist, to help, and to deal with ISIS -- as it arrives. But we're not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission," Biden explained.
"We support strengthening Iraq's democracy and we're anxious to make sure the election goes forward in October," Biden added. "And we're also committed to our security cooperation, our shared fight against ISIS. It's critical for the stability of the region and our counter-terrorism cooperation will continue, even as we shift to this new phase we're going to be talking about."
There are currently 2,500 troops serving in Iraq and officials did not say if there are plans to bring them home when the combat mission formally ends. Many of those troops are currently training Iraqi forces and could remain to continue to assist as Iraq continues to battle terrorists including ISIS.
"If you look to where we were, where we had Apache helicopters in combat, when we had U.S. special forces doing regular operations, it's a significant evolution. So by the end of the year we think we'll be in a good place to really formally move into an advisory and capacity-building role," a White House official said, according to Reuters.