By Safvan Allahverdi
WASHINGTON (AA) – Due to accelerated successes following the liberation of Mosul from Daesh, the U.S. will shift its focus in Iraq from enabling combat operations to sustaining public security, officials said Monday.
"Our enduring presence as invited guests in Iraq will shift to focus more on policing, border control and military capacity building," Brig. Gen. Jonathan Braga, director of operations for Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), said in a statement.
"We will sustain the successful momentum and enhance the capacities of the Iraqi security forces in pursuing Daesh, now and in the future."
Braga's remarks came after U.S. media reports claimed that the U.S. had begun reducing the number of its troops in Iraq after Baghdad’s victory over Daesh.
While noting that 98 percent of Daesh-held territory in Iraq and Syria had been recovered, the statement said the terror group still has the ability to carry out lethal attacks and poses a potent threat to civilians and the region’s stability.
"We are clear the enemy is still capable of offensive action and retains the ability to plan and inspire attacks worldwide," Braga added.
"Although OIR's force composition may change over time to ensure we have the best forces on hand for the task, we will retain an appropriate amount of capabilities as well as an advisory presence to continue training, advising and equipping our partners in the continued fight against Daesh, all with the approval of the Government of Iraq."
In addition, Pentagon Spokesperson Eric Pahon told Anadolu Agency that the point of the CJTF-OIR statement is "not to focus on the numbers".
Pahon said the coalition's move is a change in the assets and focus in Iraq.
"So we are moving more from those combat operations, big heavy guns [and] killing ISIS [Daesh] to more training for sustainability, to help Iraqi security forces in the long term," he said, adding there is not going to be a significant drawdown in U.S. troop numbers as the U.S. media claims.
Kasim Ileri contributed to this report.