Iraq PM: No US combat troops to stay in Iraq after IS

Iraqi forces have started to push into northern areas of Mosul in a new front in their battle against Islamic State fighters.

Militia fighters not attached to the Iraqi army who also were fighting ISIS were pretty much segregated from Iraqi forces, Sylvia said.

The recapture of Mosul by the Iraqi security forces would deal a death blow to the "caliphate" IS proclaimed over large parts of Syria and Iraq almost three years ago.

Over time, US forces employed countermeasures that stopped or slowed their flight, enabling Iraqi ground forces to shoot them out of the sky, he said, noting that the new threat from the air led to dusting off old manuals on how to respond to threats from the air with countermeasures such as camouflage. Both nations are seeking favorable terms under a status of forces agreement, or SOFA, which would spell out legal protections for United States forces stationed in Iraq.

The officials told AP, however, that discussions were ongoing and that nothing had been finalized.

The Pentagon has close to 7,000 troops in Iraq.

The United States and Iraq now are in talks that would allow an as of yet unspecified number of USA troops to stay in Iraq after the presumed fall of ISIS.

The US intervention against the Islamic State group, launched in 2014, was originally cast as an operation that would largely be fought from the skies with a minimal footprint on Iraqi soil.

It said Iraqi forces had already captured a small outlying village called Hsunah and a nearby gas factory.

During a visit to Iraq in February, Mattis and Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top US commander in Iraq, described an enduring partnership between the USA and Iraq.

In March, Defense Secretary Mattis said there was interest in keeping U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq, and it was in America's "national interest", a desire expressed during a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing.

"It is open to all global expertise to meets the aspirations of Iraq to build military institutions and security apparatuses that enjoy full readiness to face any future security challenges, whether external or internal and in accordance with the requirements of Iraqi national sovereignty".

The Iraqi army said on April 30 that it aimed to complete the battle for Mosul, the largest city to have fallen under Daesh control, in both Iraq and Syria, this month.

"I think that the government of Iraq realises their very complex fight, and they're going to need the assistance of the coalition even beyond Mosul". Iraq and Iran also share a religion, a long border and in some cases, national interests in the region.

Ongoing talks are mostly centered on what form the permanent USA deployment will take, and if the Bush-era talks are to be any indicator, the focus is likely to be on ensuring that U.S. forces have absolute legal immunity for anything they do in Iraq.

  • Tracy Klein