US general: Iraq government wants continuing US presence

US general: Iraq government wants continuing US presence

Shafaq News/ Troops in Iraq will be cut to 2,500, but Baghdad wants a continued US presence to fight ISIS remnants. The US Middle East commander said Thursday.

Central Command Commander General Kenneth McKenzie said in an online conference held by the National Council on US-Arab Relations that the continuing US presence has successfully “limited the activities of Iran and ISIS.”

McKenzie added, "Based on the hope that we would be asked to leave Iraq through the government of Iraq's political processes."

However, he said, "the government of Iraq has clearly indicated it wants to maintain its partnership with the United States and coalition forces as we continue to finish the fight against ISIS."

McKenzie cited estimates that the ISIS still has about 10,000 remants in the Iraq-Syria region and still a real threat.

"The progress of the Iraqi Security Forces has allowed the United States to reduce force posture in Iraq," he added.

But US and coalition forces have to be there to help prevent terrorism from reconstituting as a cohesive group able to plot major attacks, he said.

McKenzie said the US presence and measured retaliations had also successfully deterred Iran from persisting in attacks on Gulf shipping, and limited its proxy attacks in Iraq.

"Today I believe Iran has been largely deterred because the regime now understands we possess both the capability and the will to respond," he said.

Earlier, Baghdad and Washington have reached an agreement that would require U.S. forces to withdraw 500 soldiers from Iraq.

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