Following up on previous reports last month about plans for the US to keep a number of trainers in Iraq beyond the deadline for withdrawal, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced today in a press conference that 700 troops will remain.
Maliki insisted that the troops’ duties would be strictly training and that they would only be operating inside military barracks. His comments did not directly address the US demands for immunity for the troops, but presumably they are being given some sort of immunity from prosecution for any crimes committed inside Iraq.
Maliki also reported that the number of troops at the US Embassy would “not exceed 2,000,” giving the first clear view of exactly what sort of number of boots on the ground will remain after the end of the month.
In addition to the 700 trainers and the “not exceeding 2,000” embassy troops, the US will also have 1,500 diplomats with diplomatic immunity, as well as 15,000 other employees, which presumably includes the “private army” the State Department is planning to create.