U.S. forces will remain in Iraq “as long as needed” to help in areas previously under the control of the Islamic State, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said Sunday. Col. Sean Ryan told a news conference in Abu Dhabi that there could be a “drawdown” in the number of troops but it would depend “on when NATO comes in and they help train the forces as well.” About 5,200 U.S. troops are currently based in the country, and the U.S. has had a presence there since the George W. Bush administration. Trump, who blasted the invasion of Iraq as the “worst decision ever made,” has signaled a desire to ease the U.S. military’s role throughout the Middle East and have other nations contribute more to restabilization efforts. U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis formally requested more help in Iraq from NATO last February, and defense ministers agreed to a “train-and-advise” mission in the country. It remains unclear when that mission will begin.
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