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United States ends combat operations, moves to advisory role in Iraq

United States ends combat operations, moves to advisory role in Iraq
The U.S. military ended its combat mission in Iraq, with the 2,500 troops stationed in Iraq set to move to an advisory role. File Photo by Capt. Ryan E. Alvis/USMC

Dec. 9 (UPI) -- The United States on Thursday ended its combat mission in Iraq, the Pentagon announced.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby confirmed the transition in a briefing with reporters, stating U.S. military forces have been "working themselves out of offensive combat operations against ISIS for quite some time."

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"This is the natural evolution, this is in keeping with our commitments to the Iraqi government and we look forward to that partnership now going forward," he said.

In July, the United States and Iraq agreed to end the 18-year U.S. combat mission in Iraq, and replace it with logistical and advisory support, air support and surveillance capability in the Iraqi government's conflict with the Islamic State.

Kirby on Thursday said that the 2,500 troops already stationed in Iraq would remain there for the time being.

"This is a change in mission, right, not necessarily a change in physical posture," Kirby said. "Not to say that that posture won't change over time but as you and I are speaking here today there's been no major change to that."

In a statement, Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve head Maj. Gen. John Brennan noted that "many brave men and women gave their lives" in the fight against ISIS.

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"As we complete our combat role, we will remain here to advise, assist and enable the ISF, at the invitation of Republic of Iraq," Brennan said. "We are confident that the fruits of our strong partnership will ensure [ISIS] will not reconstitute and threaten the Iraqi people."

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