‘I don't think it's fair to compare’ Iraq and Afghanistan: US defense secretary

Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III in Senate Armed Forces Committee confirmation hearing in Washington, D.C. Jan. 19, 2021. (DoD/EJ Hersom)

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SULAIMANI — Discussing the recent US withdrawal from Afghanistan, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that it was unfair to make a direct comparison with the situation in Iraq.

In a Voice of America (VOA) interview published on Sunday (September 12), Austin said that the US "never completely left Iraq” after 2011, saying that a training mission remained on the ground.

"But as you compare [Afghanistan and Iraq], they're completely different. They're different people, they're different, facing different adversaries. So, I don't think it's fair to compare them head-to-head,” he continued.

Looking forward, the defense secretary said that the US counterterrorism mission would focus on the "ungoverned spaces” that transitional terrorist groups exploit.

As a part of the US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue this summer, Washington agreed to end its combat mission in Iraq by the end of the year.

A number of Iraqi political parties have called on the US to withdraw its troops fully, but approximately 2,500 remain to train Iraqi forces as part of the fight against Islamic State (ISIS) at the request of the Iraqi government.

(NRT Digital Media)