President Joe Biden to end US military's combat mission in Iraq by the end of 2021

President Joe Biden meets with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on Monday. Credit: AP

President Joe Biden has announced the US will end its military's combat mission in Iraq by the end of the year after coming to an agreement with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi.

Mr Biden set out a more precise timeline for American forces to formally step back in their fight against the so-called Islamic State in Iraq.

The plan is to shift the American military mission to a strictly advisory and training one by the year’s end - with no US troops in a combat role.

"We’re not going to be by the end of the year in a combat mission," said Mr Biden, who noted US forces will remain in the country to train and assist Iraqi forces as needed.

"Our shared fight against ISIS is critical for the stability of the region and our counterterrorism cooperation will continue even as we shift to this new phase that we’re going to be talking about," Mr Biden added.

Joe Biden Credit: Susan Walsh/AP

The US troop presence has stood at about 2,500 since late last year when former-President Donald Trump ordered a reduction from 3,000.

Mr Biden, however, has not confirmed how many US troops would remain in Iraq when the combat mission is formally completed.

The troop reduction may not be substantial because of the continuing advisory and training mission.

The plan to end the US combat mission in Iraq follows President Biden's decision to withdraw fully from Afghanistan nearly 20 years after President George W Bush launched that war in response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

President Joe Biden shakes hands with Iraqi Prime Minister al-Kadhimi during their meeting in the Oval Office on Monday. Credit: AP

Less than two years later, Mr Bush started the war in Iraq.

Mr Biden has vowed to continue counter-terrorism efforts in the Middle East but shift more attention to China as a long-term security challenge.

The senior administration official said Iraqi security forces are “battle tested" and have proved themselves “capable" of protecting their country.

Still, the Biden administration recognises that the so-called Islamic State remains a considerable threat, a White House official has said.

The US-Iraqi announcement will also detail non-military agreements, including health and energy.

Most notably the US will give Iraq 500,000 doses of the Pfizer Covid vaccine, which Mr Biden said will arrive in a matter of weeks.

The United States will also provide $5.2 million (£3.76 million) to help fund a UN mission to monitor October elections in Iraq.

President Biden said: “We’re looking forward to seeing an election in October."