A top US commander says Washington plans to maintain a military footprint in Iraq even after the full eradication of Daesh (ISIL) terrorists there.
Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend said on Tuesday that the United States and some of its allies were “interested” to keep their military presence in the Arab country after the eventual defeat of the Takfiri terrorist group.
"We have a fairly robust footprint here that's fairly well distributed around the country, mainly for the purpose of defeating ISIL," he said. "A future footprint would be smaller and probably use a subset of the bases that we have today."
Townsend also claimed the Iraqi government had expressed an interest in having the US-led coalition troops stay in the country, adding that discussions were in the final decision-making stages.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally declared triumph over Daesh in the northern city of Mosul on July 10.
The US and its allies have been bombarding what they say are Daesh positions inside Syria and Iraq since 2014. The coalition has repeatedly been accused of targeting and killing civilians. It has also been largely incapable of fulfilling its declared aim of eliminating Daesh.
The Pentagon has admitted to killing almost 500 civilians in the US campaign over the past three years, but monitoring group Airwars says the actual number is around 3,800.