US to reduce troops in Iraq
The United States is reducing its troop presence in Iraq this month from 5,200 to 3,000, a the top American commander for the Middle East said on Wednesday, as President Donald Trump tries to make good on his campaign promise to get the US out of the “endless wars.”
During a visit to Iraq, Marine General Frank McKenzie, the commander of US Central Command, said the reduction in Iraq reflected US confidence in the ability of US-trained Iraqi security forces to handle the militant threat from the Islamic State group, which entered Iraq from Syria in 2014.
Late Tuesday, a senior Trump administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told reporters aboard Air Force One that such an announcement was coming and that an announcement on the withdrawal of additional troops from Afghanistan also could be expected in the coming days.
Trump has been trying to make the case that he has fulfilled the promises he made four years ago as he campaigns for a second term. US forces have been in Afghanistan since 2001.
They invaded Iraq in 2003 and left in 2011, but returned in 2014 after the Islamic State group overran large parts of Iraq. “In recognition of the great progress the Iraqi forces have made and in consultation and coordination with the government of Iraq and our coalition partners, the United States has decided to reduce our troop presence in Iraq from about 5,200 to 3,000 troops during the month of September,” McKenzie said, according to an excerpt of his remarks provided by his office. McKenzie said the remaining US troops would continue advising and assisting Iraqi security forces as they attempt to root out remnants of the IS.
Tensions spiked between the US and Iraq in January after a US drone strike in Baghdad killed Iranian General Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.