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

Iraqi Christians homes on the Nineveh Plain were largely destroyed under ISIS rule Jaco Klamer  Aid to the Church in Need

USA -backed Iraqi security forces on Thursday opened a new front in the battle for Mosul in preparation for a final assault to liberate the city from Islamic State control.

Iraqi officials have since said the battle would be over by the end of May, though some military observers remain skeptical it will be completed before late summer.

The U.S. forces that stay after the ISIS fight would be stationed inside existing Iraqi bases in at least five locations in the Mosul area and along Iraq's border with Syria, an Iraqi government official told the AP.

Iraqi forces seem to be circling the old city before proceeding with their operation to clear it.

Some US forces are carrying out combat operations with Iraqi forces on and beyond front lines in the fight against IS. So as for agreement, yes, we both understand it would be mutually beneficial.

Officials say a suicide auto bomber has struck a USA military convoy in the Afghan capital, killing at least eight Afghan civilians and wounding three US service members.

In the past few days, Iraqi forces had already prepared for the launch of the fresh front by opening a new exit for trapped civilians, who live in dire humanitarian conditions in the ISIS enclave.

U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian briefs reporters at the Pentagon.

A cross consecrated in the ISIS-devastated town
A cross consecrated in the ISIS-devastated town

Leaving some kind of residual United States force in Iraq would be in tune with President Trump's assertion during the presidential campaign that it was mistake for the USA to not leave a residual after it 2011 withdrawal.

Separately, Captain Ali al-Bahadoli of Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) said government forces had lobbed a barrage of missiles at an area west of Mosul, killing scores of Daesh militants.

On Thursday, U.S. Special Operations Command chief Gen. Raymond Thomas refused to characterize the Afghan War as a stalemate, but did question the level of commitment to the war effort by the Obama administration.

"We believe there are 3,000 to 4,000 ISIS fighters in Raqqah, including foreign fighters and various leadership figures", Dorrian said.

There, al-Baghdadi designated the terror group's caliphate after they took over nearly a third of Iraq.

"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".

Al-Abadi has long struggled to balance Iraq's dependence on both the US and Iran.

Iraqi forces are struggling to retake the last remaining Mosul neighbourhoods ISIS holds in the city's western half, but even after a territorial victory, Iraqi and US-led coalition officials have warned of the potential for ISIS to carry our insurgent attacks in government held territory.

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