- The Washington Times - Friday, January 17, 2014

U.S. military men and women may be headed back to Iraq — again.

American troops have been out of the country since 2011, but Iraq President Nouri al-Maliki said this week that he would back a U.S. training mission that takes place in Jordan, the Navy Times reported.

The Pentagon issued a statement on Friday that leaves the door open for U.S. forces to return to the region to train security forces struggling with an al Qaeda resurgence in Anbar province.

“We are in continuing discussions about how we can improve the Iraqi military,” Army Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, said Friday in a statement.

“We are processing a wide range of requests [from the Iraqis] for continued support,” a defense official speaking on condition of anonymity told the Navy Times. Those requests include arms shipments large enough to require Congressional notification.

The U.S. currently has less than 300 troops in Iraq, “all operating under the command of the civilian-run U.S. Embassy in Baghdad,” according to the Navy Times.

SEE ALSO: Iraq War veterans mourn losses of hard-fought gains in Fallujah

American troops are severely limited in what they can do, since the the two nations were unable to complete a Status of Forces Agreement in 2011. Without such an agreement, soldiers operating within the country do not have legal immunity and could quickly find themselves at the mercy of the Iraqi criminal justice system.

• Douglas Ernst can be reached at dernst@washingtontimes.com.

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