Biden: US Combat Troops Will Leave Iraq By End of Year

The United States' combat mission will end in Iraq by the end of the year, President Joe Biden confirmed to reporters on Monday—signaling an official change in the country's role in the fight against the Islamic State terrorists there.

"We're not going to be, by the end of the year, in a combat mission," Biden said during a meeting with Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi of Iraq.

Monday marked the fourth meeting of what's been dubbed the U.S.-Iraq Strategic Dialogue in Washington—the second of the Biden administration.

The White House has not provided additional details on what it's broadly describing as an effort to shift to security and training missions—a "change in mission" that had been anticipated for some time and is fully-backed by Iraq.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that when the United States began the dialogue with Iraqi leaders, there were about 9,000 troops there.

"We are now at about 2,500 U.S. forces in Iraq," she said. "We are there, of course, at Iraq's invitation to improve the capacity of Iraqi Security Forces and help them in the fight against ISIS."

It's unclear how many members of the U.S. military will remain in Iraq and whether some military members currently in combat roles will shift to the new strategic roles.

"The numbers will be driven by what is needed for the mission over time," Psaki said. "It is more about moving to a more advising and training capacity from what we have had over the last several years—that is what the Iraqi leadership have conveyed they want to see on the ground."

Biden said specific details are still being hashed out on the mission change.

"Iraq has been a vital partner of the United States for some time now in the Middle East," he said. "The sacrifices that so many have made to build the U.S.-Iraq partnership has been real, and it's consequential."

The president's late son, Beau, was stationed in Iraq in the Army National Guard.

"The U.S-Iraqi strategic dialogue is about commitments that expand our cooperation on issues like healthcare, climate, energy," Biden said, also noting the U.S. is sending half a million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to the Middle Eastern country.

Al-Kadhimi acknowledged "all the blood and treasure that America has given for a free and democratic Iraq," as the country has been battling Iran-backed ISIS fighters.

"Together we fight to defeat Daesh—ISIS," al-Kadhimi said. "And I'd like to thank the American people on behalf of all Iraq's people."

He said he feels that today the country's relationship with the U.S. "is stronger than ever."

"Our partnership exists for economy, the environment, health, education, culture and more," he said.

US Combat Troops Leaving Iraq By 2021
The White House has not provided additional details on what it's broadly describing as an effort to shift from combat missions to security and training missions. U.S. President Joe Biden, right, meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, D.C., Monday. SAUL LOEB / AFP/Getty Images