US to reduce number of troops in Iraq

9 September 2020 (Last Updated September 9th, 2020 15:44)

The US is set to withdraw more than one-third of its forces from Iraq, confirming earlier expectations of a military drawdown in the country.

US to reduce number of troops in Iraq
Forward observers from 1st Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, establish an observation post while preparing to conduct a live fire artillery exercise outside of Ar Ramadi, Iraq, Feb. 21, 2004. 1/16 is currently stationed at Camp Junction City, Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Joseph Roberts) (Released)

The US is set to withdraw more than one-third of its forces from Iraq, confirming earlier expectations of a military drawdown in the country.

During a visit to Iraq, the US Central Command head Marine General Frank McKenzie told reporters that the size of deployment in Iraq will be reduced from 5,200 to 3,000 troops this month.

The US maintains a military presence in the Middle-Eastern country to fight the Islamic State militant group. However, it decided to trim the size of the contingent as Iraqi forces are capable of combatting the final remnants of the militant group.

Marine General Frank McKenzie was quoted by Reuters as saying: “We are continuing to expand on our partner capacity programmes that enable Iraqi forces and allow us to reduce our footprint in Iraq.”

The move comes after US President Donald Trump reaffirmed this commitment to reduce troops in Iraq during a meeting with the Iraqi prime minister last month.

In January, the US killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in a drone strike. Iran retaliated by firing 12 ballistic missiles at two military airbases housing US troops in Iraq.

The incidents triggered tensions in the Middle-East prompting Iraq’s parliament to pass a resolution calling on the government to expel foreign troops from the country.

According to an AFP report, France has already withdrawn its troops from the country, while the UK downsized its deployment to around 100 personnel in the recent months.