With just two weeks left before the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) in Iraq requires the American troops to leave all Iraqi cities, top US commander General Raymond Odierno says the US is “absolutely committed” to pulling its troops back by the deadline.
At the same time, Gen. Odierno conceded that some troops would remain in the cities as advisers and trainers. Though he declined to report on exactly how many troops this would be, he insisted it would be “a very small number.”
The US has repeatedly changed its position on whether or not it would abide by the deadline, and has even convinced the Iraqi government to redefine some of its city borders to circumvent the requirement. There has been speculation that the US would also re-label its combat troops en masse as “trainers” to allow them to remain.
Odierno says the US troops will even leave Mosul, and says he is quite comfortable with the decision. Mosul’s high level of violence has raised concern that the Iraqi military would be unable to take control of it.