Pentagon Says US Has No Plans to Withdraw From Iraq

Iraq's prime minister said he is taking steps to expel US forces

The Pentagon said Monday that it has no plans to withdraw from Iraq despite Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani saying he’s taking steps to expel the US-led international coalition that’s based in the country.

“Right now, I’m not aware of any plans (to plan for withdrawal). We continue to remain very focused on the defeat ISIS mission,” said Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder. He added that he’s not aware of “any notifications by the Iraqi government to the Department of Defense” about a withdrawal.

Al-Sudani made the comments about moving toward a withdrawal on Friday after the US launched a drone strike in Baghdad that killed a deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), an umbrella group of mainly Shia militias that’s part of Iraq’s security forces.

“We are setting the date for the start of the bilateral committee to put arrangements to end the presence of the international coalition forces in Iraq permanently,” al-Sudani said. He said the PMF represents “an official presence affiliated with the state, subject to it, and an integral part of our armed forces.”

Al-Sudani’s government strongly condemned the US drone strike in Baghdad as a violation of sovereignty and said it was “no different from a terrorist act.” The US claimed the person killed in the drone strike was responsible for attacks on US troops that started in Iraq and Syria in October in response to President Biden’s full-throated support for the Israeli slaughter in Gaza but has provided no evidence for the claim.

POLITICO later reported that al-Sudani has privately expressed to the US that he’s interested in negotiating a continued US military presence and that his statement on ending it was “an attempt to satisfy domestic political audiences.” However, the report also said it’s possible the “political machinations inside the Iraqi parliament force him to take steps to remove American forces.”

Iraq’s parliament voted to expel US forces in 2020 after a US drone strike in Baghdad killed Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani and PMF leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. But the US refused to leave and was able to stay despite the opposition due to its enormous economic leverage over Iraq and its ability to sink the Iraqi economy.

The US has about 2,500 troops in Iraq nominally to fight ISIS, but al-Sudani has said Iraqi forces could handle the ISIS remnants left in Iraq. The US presence in Iraq supports the US occupation of eastern Syria, where there are about 900 American troops.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.