Pompeo reassures Iraqi prime minister on US commitment to fight ISIS
CAIRO – Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi said US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo informed him that Washington remains committed to combating the Islamic State (ISIS) in Iraq despite its planned troop withdrawal from neighbouring Syria, according to a statement from the prime minister’s office.
US President Donald Trump made the surprise announcement on December 19 to withdraw all US troops from Syria, declaring triumph over ISIS in the country.
“We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency,” Trump tweeted that morning, shortly before his administration confirmed the planning for a complete pullout from Syria was under way.
Trump’s plan has been criticised by allies Britain and France that say the fight against ISIS is far from over.
“Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi received a phone call from US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. who explained the details of the upcoming withdrawal from Syria and affirmed the United States is still committed to fight Islamic State and terrorism in Iraq and other areas,” Abdul-Mahdi’s office said in a statement.
Abdul-Mahdi and Pompeo also discussed Washington’s decision to grant Baghdad a 90-day waiver from sanctions against Iran, allowing Iraq to continue importing gas from the country.
ISIS remains a credible threat in Iraq, with reports that four ISIS fighters were killed just last week near Mosul in air strikes conducted by US forces in support of Iraqi military.
“The Iraqi Security Forces are relentlessly pursuing ISIS fighters wherever they hide,” US Army Colonel Jonathan Byrom, the Joint Operations Command-Iraq deputy commander, said in a statement. “The Coalition will continue to provide support and joint fires as needed to bring about the lasting defeat of ISIS in Iraq.”