US Starts Drawing Down Troops from Iraq

Gholamreza Langari who was killed in Syria

"So we are moving more from those combat operations, big heavy guns [and] killing ISIS (Daesh) to more training for sustainability, to help Iraqi security forces in the long term", he said, adding there is not going to be a significant drawdown in USA troop numbers as the USA media claims.

The Iraqi government spokesman spokesman Saad al-Hadithi framed this to the AP as "a message to those who doubt the government's decisions regarding the presence of American (forces in Iraq): There are rules and the promise of a withdrawal".

"As a result of the successful operations by the Coalition and its partners, Daesh [Islamic State] has lost approximately 98 percent of the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria", the release said. An unnamed senior official close to Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi tells the AP that, according to an initial agreement reached with Washington, 60 percent of USA troops in Iraq will be withdrawn, leaving about 4,000 to continue training the Iraqi military. He spoke to the AP on Monday afternoon in Baghdad.

"Enabled by accelerated successes following the liberation of Mosul, the Coalition will shift its focus in Iraq from enabling combat operations to sustaining military gains against Daesh".

Iran-allied Shiite militias, which played a role in defeating the Sunni ISIS group, have always been calling for the withdrawal of US troops at times even threatening American forces.

U.S. Army soldiers stands next to a guided-missile launcher, a few miles from the frontline, in the village of Abu Ghaddur, east of Tal Afar, Iraq.

A journalist at the Al-Asad base in western Iraq reported that troop movements were taking place at the facility, which appeared to be in line with the contractors' accounts.

"Continued coalition presence in Iraq will be conditions-based, proportional to the need and in coordination with the government of Iraq", coalition spokesman Army Col. Ryan Dillon told AP.

The drawdown will be the first reduction in American troops in Iraq since the fight against ISIS started three years ago.

The contractors said dozens of USA soldiers had left on daily flights over the past week. At the time the military intervention was described as "limited", but as Iraq's military struggled to roll back the extremists, the US -led coalition's footprint in the country steadily grew.

A Pentagon report released in November said there were 8,892 US troops in as of late September.

In August 2017, President Donald Trump announced a new Afghanistan strategy, in which he pledged to continue US support for the Afghan government and military.

The United States has deployed about 2,000 soldiers in Syria and more than 5,000 in Iraq.

The terror group surrendered control of 98 percent of its territory in the region and now occupies only two percent of land near the Syrian city of Al-Shaafah, where the strike occurred.

However, the Iraqi government said the process has not officially begun.

Kataib Hezbollah has strong links to Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps and has threatened to attack USA forces several times in the past, describing their presence as an occupation. US troop numbers eventually reduced to 40,000 before the complete withdrawal in 2011.

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