Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi says US military forces will not stay on in his conflict-stricken Arab country once government forces, backed by volunteer fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, retake swathes of land that are still under the control of Takfiri Daesh terrorists.
Abadi, in a statement released on Friday, announced that there are no foreign combat troops on Iraqi soil, but there are military advisers and experts from a number of countries.
The statement further dismissed the Associated Press report on talks between Iraq and the United States on maintaining American forces in the country.
The US combat mission in Iraq ended in 2010, when former president Barack Obama ordered almost all US troops to withdraw from the Arab state.
The Iraqi prime minister added that the Iraqi government has plans and strategies to develop the capabilities of its security forces through training and arming so that they are fully prepared to counter any future security challenges.
Baghdad is open to all international expertise in accordance with the requirements of Iraqi national sovereignty, Abadi highlighted.
Iraqi forces recapture three villages northwest of Mosul
Meanwhile, Iraqi security forces have made territorial gains on the outskirts of Mosul, located some 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of the capital Baghdad.
Commander of Federal Police Forces Lieutenant General Raed Shaker Jawdat said on Friday that his forces had established control over five square kilometers northwest of Daesh's last urban stronghold, and liberated three villages from the clutches of the extremists.
Jawdat added that Federal Police forces also besieged the militant-held al-Haramat region, and four kilometers close to the Fifth Bridge in western Mosul. He noted that 23 Daesh militants were killed in the process.
Top Daesh commanders slain in western Mosul
Iraqi security forces also launched an operation against Daesh positions in the Zanjili neighborhood of western Mosul, killing a senior militant commander identified as Hassan Jomeh Hassan.
Separately, Captain Ali al-Bahadoli of Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) said government forces had lobbed a barrage of missiles at an area west of Mosul, killing scores of Daesh militants. Habib Khalid al-Jabbar, an official in charge of the terror group’s military affairs, was killed during the operation.
Iraqi army soldiers and pro-government fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by the Arabic name Hashd al-Sha’abi, have made sweeping gains against the Takfiri elements since launching the operation to retake Mosul.
The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.
The United Nations says nearly half a million civilians have fled fighting since the offensive to retake Mosul started on October 17, 2016.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on April 17 that 493,000 people had been displaced from the city, located some 400 kilometers north of Baghdad.
As many as 500,000 civilians are still trapped in the Daesh-controlled neighborhoods of western Mosul.