The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) agreed to by the United States and Iraq in November required that all US troops leave Iraqi cities and villages by the end of June. It is hardly news that the US has been flaunting other, less central aspects of the pact (like the requirement to turn its detainees over to Iraqi custody): now it seems even these pledges weren’t worth the paper they were printed on.
Today, Lieutenant General Lloyd Austin admitted that troops probably will not be out of cities in Diyala Province, or out of Mosul, when the SOFA would require. “I have every expectation that both sides will say we need to stay with this a little bit longer until this improves,” Lt. Gen Austin said.
The delay is yet another in a long line of lowered expectations as the Obama Administration’s pullout strategy in Iraq takes longer and longer. The current strategy would keep up to 50,000 combat troops in Iraq indefinitely, though declaring the end to combat operations by relabeling the troops.