Iraqi spokesman confirms USA forces drawing down

Violet Powell
February 7, 2018

A report emanating from Ain Assad Airbase says that American troops have started to draw down from Iraq following Baghdad's declaration of victory over Daesh (IS) terror group a year ago.

He told Reuters: "Coordination continues, to maintain (US) assistance to the Iraqi forces in accordance with their requirements".

The U.S. -led coalition fighting ISIS announced Monday that its military campaign in Iraq will shift focus from combat operations to sustaining military gains against ISIS. The move will lead to a realignment of some of the 5,600 US forces in Iraq as they become an "enduring presence" in that country.

US officials say that while Islamic State has lost most of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria, there is concern about surviving fighters returning to insurgency tactics.

Meanwhile, the AP news agency reported that the United States had started to reduce the number of its troops in Iraq. The contractors spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations and declined to reveal the exact size of the drawdown.

American troops are leaving Iraq for Afghanistan as part of an agreement between Baghdad and the US-led coalition, contractors told AP.

This is for the e first time since the war against Daesh (IS) was launched three years ago.

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Trump also said the mandate of USA troops to target terrorists in Afghanistan would be expanded and approved sending an additional 4,000 troops to the country.

Despite that information, the US military cites the official number of USA troops in Iraq as approximately 5,262.

Iraq's military declared in December that it had "fully liberated" Iraq from ISIS and retaken full control of the Iraqi-Syrian border.

The U.S. first launched airstrikes against the Islamic State group in in August 2014.

"The generator is important because it's how we operate our aircraft", said an Iraqi pilot instructor.

"Great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of USA national security", Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last month in remarks outlining the strategy. In 2014, at the height of the Sunni militant group's power, Daesh controlled almost a third of Iraqi territory.

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