The US Army’s outgoing chief of staff warned Wednesday that reconciliation between Shiites and Sunnis in Iraq is becoming harder and that partitioning the country “might be the only solution.”

General Raymond Odierno, who once served as the top US commander in Iraq and retires Friday after nearly 40 years in uniform, said the US focus for now should be on defeating the Islamic State, the jihadist group that has seized large portions of the country.

But in a valedictory news conference he took a pessimistic view about the underlying conflict between Shiites and Sunnis that brought the two communities to brink of civil war in 2006.

Asked if he saw any possibility of reconciliation between the two, Odierno said “It’s becoming more difficult by the day” and pointed to a future in which “Iraq might not look like it did in the past.”

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