- The Washington Times - Monday, March 18, 2019

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is calling on the Trump administration to continue training and advising the Iraqi military and providing financial support to the country in the wake of a growing push from Iraq to remove foreign troops.

In a statement released Monday, the group, which includes the Democratic and Republican leaders on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, House Intelligence Committee, and House Armes Services Committee, warned that “it would be a mistake to pull back from Iraq as it seeks to preserve its sovereignty from both internal and external threats and grow into a thriving, vibrant democracy.”

The recently installed Iraqi government is drafting plans to remove all foreign military forces who have been stationed in the country to help fight Islamic State, Reuters reported. Since 2014, the U.S. has led a coalition in Iraq that has provided land and air support to assist in destroying the ISIS caliphate. Mr. Trump angered some in Baghdad with comments near the end of 2018 suggesting he would keep U.S. forces in Iraq indefinitely to “watch” Iran.

“The administration should continue these joint efforts, such as training and replenishing Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Service after the punishing counter-ISIS battles,” the statement read. “These and other initiatives will allow Iraq to defend itself and provide security for its people and will prevent Americans from fighting the same battles of the past.”

The U.S. has provided nearly $340 million in recovery assistance for Iraq’s religious and ethnic component communities, according to the statement. However, the lawmakers warned that such funding is not enough to support “all of Iraq’s people.”

“We call on the administration to continue to engage with Congress to ensure a stable future for the Iraqi people,” the group wrote.

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