U.S. command in Iraq shuts down ground operations

April 30 (UPI) — U.S. command forces in Iraq responsible for coordinating land operations against the Islamic State terror group deactivated Monday — signaling the end of major ground combat.

The Combined Joint Forces Land Component Command was closed down with a ceremony in Baghdad Monday, attended by Iraqi and coalition leaders that included a “casing of the colors.”

“Casing the CJFLCC colors is a symbolic gesture, honoring the perseverance and sacrifice of our coalition partners,” Maj. Gen. Walter Piatt said in a statement. “Thanks to our partnered success, we are able to continue to support the government of Iraq.”

Since 2014, the command headquarters has run coalition and local operations to clear out large sections of IS territories in Iraq.

As of Monday, the allied command transferred its duties to the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, the Pentagon’s primary fighting arm against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

The deactivation is a sign of the coalition’s end of ground combat against the terrorist group in Iraq — and is a result of a reduced role in shifting to Iraq taking over security capabilities, U.S. officials said.

Col. Ryan Dillon said the effort to prevent an Islamic State resurgence, though, will continue.

“As far as the [IS] threat … we know that they want to come back,” Dillon said. “It’s the Iraqi security forces identifying these threats and doing something about them before they become an attack or a spectacle, a large attack.”

Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, a spokesman for the Iraqi Security Force, praised the “commitment and professionalism” of the coalition nations.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory against the terror group last year, following the recapture of Mosul from IS fighters.

In December, Iraq’s prime minister announced the country’s defense forces completely liberated the nation from the Islamic State.

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