ISIS defeat: Donald Trump eyes pulling troops out Iraq after US ‘destroyed’ terrorists

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The US and Iraq combined forces to tackle ISIS caliphates in the Middle East in 2014. The coalition declared victory against ISIS in 2017 after taking back all land captured by the terrorists. But US troops have remained in Iraq due to smaller independent strikes.

Mr Trump declined to say whether US troops would be coming back home in the next three years.

However, at a press briefing in the White House after meeting Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, he said “we’ll be leaving shortly”.

Mr Trump added: “At some point, we obviously will be gone. We’ve brought it down to a very, very low level.

“We look forward to the day when we don’t have to be there, and hopefully, Iraq can live their own lives and they can defend themselves, which they’ve been doing long before we got involved.”

Currently the US has around 5,000 troops stationed in Iraq to counter terrorism in the country.

In the press briefing, Mr Trump boasted US troops “knocked out 100 percent of the ISIS caliphate” in Iraq.

But after he was pressed by reporters for a deadline, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo claimed the troops would return when they “complete the mission”.

He added: “The president has made very clear he wants to get our forces down to the lowest level as quickly as we possibly can.

“That’s the mission he’s given us, and we’re working with the Iraqis to achieve that.”

Mr al-Kadhimi, at the press briefing with Mr Trump, thanked the US for its assistance in the fight against ISIS.

He lauded the US for its support, and said the coalition against the terrorist group “strengthens our partnership for the best interest of our nation”.

Mr al-Kadhimi also said: “The United States helped Iraq enormously in defeating ISIS and also in toppling the Saddam Hussein regime.

“We are working on building a strong relationship that is based on joint interests between Iraq and the United States, that is based on economic interest for the better future of the Iraqi people and the United States people.”

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The joint conference with the US president and Iraq prime minister came before the duo issued a statement following their meeting on strengthening their defensive partnership.

Iraq’s Media Office and the White House said the two countries hold “a mutual desire for security and prosperity” following the ISIS coalition.

The statement added: “We reaffirm our commitment to long-term security cooperation to build Iraq’s military capability and address threats to our shared interests.

“Our security collaboration strengthens the foundation of our efforts to expand economic, humanitarian, political, and cultural cooperation.”

It comes after the US pulled troops out of Germany at the end of July.

Nearly 12,000 American forces will be withdrawn from the country under new orders from Mr Trump.

Secretary of Defence Mark Esper admitted that the plan will cost billions of dollars, and will take years to relocate the troops.

But Mr Trump defended the decision by pointing to Germany’s failure to meet the NATO target on defence spending.

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