US troops to stay in Iraq indefinitely even after ISIS' defeat

| Updated: Jul 13, 2017 04:25 IST

Mosul [Iraq], July 12 (ANI): The U.S. troops and coalition forces will likely to remain in Iraq for indefinite period even after Islamic State terrorists are entirely eliminated to "avoid the mistakes of the Obama administration".There are currently about 5,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. "The Iraqi government has expressed an interest in having the US forces and coalition forces remain after the defeat of ISIS [Islamic State, IS, formerly ISIL]. Our government is equally interested in that," Coalition Commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend said. "I think all of us can look back to the end of 2011 when the U.S. and coalition forces left Iraq and saw what played out in the intervening three years," Lt. Gen. Townsend told Pentagon reporters in a video briefing from Baghdad. "I don't think we want to replay that." After an eight-month-long operation,Iraq's second largest city Mosul was recaptured by Iraqi government troops and US-allied Kurdish Peshmerga fighters with air support from the US-led coalition. The operation to retake Mosul has left most of the city in ruins leading to thousands of civilian casualties and displaced around a million people. "I would anticipate that there will be a coalition presence here after the defeat of ISIS," Townsend said. "I'm reasonably sure it will be smaller and roles will be a bit different, more in the train-and-equip line of effort that we're doing now, but I think we'll be doing that after the defeat of ISIS." Townsend declined to say what troop levels he would be recommending to President Trump. Amnesty International also issued a damning report slamming the US-led coalition in Mosul for errant and excessive airstrikes, while urging it to publicly admit its failure to protect civilians. To avoid civil war like-conditions in Iraq, Townsend said, "I think the primary condition that caused the rise of ISIS was the fact that a significant portion of the Iraqi population the Sunnis, felt disaffected. They felt like Baghdad was not their government; didn't represent their interests and that segregation and division led to rise of ISIS or any other extremist groups but only domestic political reconciliation is the key to peaceful and stable Iraq". (ANI)