In this photo from the US Army, US Army Soldiers, assigned to 37th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 125th Infantry Regiment, 1st Battalion, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, board a CH-47 Chinook helicopter after a live-fire exercise at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, in July 2023.
CNN  — 

The US and Iraq are expected to soon begin talks on the future of the US military presence in the country, according to sources familiar with the matter, amid public calls from the Iraqi government for the US to withdraw its troops.

The US and Iraq agreed to form a higher military commission last summer, according to the Pentagon, as a vehicle for the talks. The discussions between US and Iraqi officials, akin to a working group, will focus on the next phase of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition, with the terror group now reduced to a shadow of its former self. US military officials and diplomats will be involved in the discussions, officials said.

The talks about the future of the US’ military presence have now taken on a greater urgency amid the wider regional instability, and amid growing public calls by the Iraqi government for the US to withdraw its troops from the country. Those calls have come in response to the US launching airstrikes inside Iraq targeting Iran-backed militants who have been attacking US personnel there.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed on Thursday that the military commission will launch “in the coming days.”

Military and defense officials will advise the commission “on the most effective evolution of the D-ISIS Coalition mission, ensuring that ISIS can never resurge, in consultation with Coalition partners at all stages of the process,” Austin said in a statement.

The US has roughly 2,500 troops currently in Iraq who have been operating there in an advise and assist capacity since December 2021, when the US military announced the end of its combat role in the country.

A senior military official told reporters on Thursday that the remaining contingency of ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria is assessed to be “around the 1,000 or so,” including fighters, financiers, facilitators, and the “network that would support the Daesh fighters.”

“They’re disrupted, they’re suppressed … Daesh is not capable beyond small attacks, currently, in Iraq and Syria,” the military official said.

Part of the discussions will focus on whether and when it will be feasible to end the US military presence in Iraq. The US prefers a schedule that would be based on conditions in Iraq, including the ongoing defeat of ISIS and the stability of the government and the Iraqi security forces, US officials said.

But some elements within the Iraqi government prefer a schedule based on a timeline, setting the date for an American withdrawal regardless of the stability or the security situation within the country. On January 10th, the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said t