The US and Iraq will resume talks aimed at ending the presence of American forces in Iraq, the US-led anti-ISIS coalition announced on Thursday.
Last month, Washington and Baghdad announced the start of formal talks aimed at ending the presence of the anti-ISIS military coalition in Iraq. They have met once since.
The next round of talks comes as two US recent strikes on Iran-backed militias in Iraq, including one late on Wednesday, have further angered the Iraqi government.
Baghdad was already complaining about the continued US presence in Iraq a decade after the Pentagon sent thousands of troops there to help the crumbling national security forces fight ISIS.
“We look forward to continuing military-to-military with our partners on Sunday afternoon as we assess our progress in our shared mission to defeat ISIS as well as discuss the future transition of our mission,” Operation Inherent Resolve's commander Maj Gen Joel “JB” Vowell said in a statement.
Iran-backed Shiite militias and political factions have been pushing the government to start talks with the US over ending the mission of the coalition and replacing it with bilateral security agreements.
The announcement of the resumption of talks came after the Wednesday drone strike in Baghdad that killed two high-ranking militia leaders.
One of those killed was believed to have managed the group's missile capabilities in Iraq and Syria.
US launches retaliatory strikes on Iran-backed targets in Iraq and Syria – video
Iraqi military spokesman Maj Gen Yahya Rasool said the attack was “a clear assassination by launching an air strike in the midst of a residential area in Baghdad”.
Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein discussed the matter in a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the Iraqi Foreign Ministry said in a Wednesday statement.
Emphasising the “need to return to the negotiation table and dialogue”, Mr Hussein reiterated the Iraqi government's rejection of US strikes.
US forces in the Middle East have been hit with a growing number of attacks from Iran-backed militias after Israel declared war on Hamas in October. An attack on a base in Jordan at the end of last month resulted in the deaths of three US soldiers.
The US has responded to these attacks with its own strikes in both Iraq and Syria.
“Attacks against US and coalition forces by groups who call themselves the Islamic Resistance in Iraq need to stop,” State Department deputy spokesman Vedant Patel said on Thursday, referring to an umbrella term for militant groups that have launched attacks on US forces.
“And so if we continue to see threats and attacks from these militia groups, we will respond will take appropriate steps to hold them accountable.”