WASHINGTON (AP) - The top U.S. commander in a northern Iraq province where al-Qaida remains a strong threat says his combat troops may stay in cities there past a June 30 deadline requiring them to pull back.
Col. Gary Volesky told reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday that his soldiers will only stay in Mosul and other nearby cities if the Iraqi government asks them to.
But on a day that Volesky held a memorial service for five soldiers who were killed in Mosul last week, the colonel did not rule out the possibility that would happen.
He described an ongoing assessment by Iraqi officials to decide. The June 30 deadline is part of a Jan. 1 security agreement between the U.S. and Iraq.
Mosul is considered al-Qaida's last stronghold in Iraq.