US to withdraw 2,200 troops from Iraq by end of September

US to withdraw 2,200 troops from Iraq by end of September
US troops have been deployed to Iraq since 2014 to help combat the Islamic State group. Source: Reuters
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Daily US Times: The US military’s top Middle East commander Gen Kenneth McKenzie has said the country will withdraw more than a third of its troops from Iraq within weeks.

Gen McKenzie told reporters the troop presence would be reduced from about 5,200 to 3,000 during September.

Those remaining will continue to assist and advice Iraqi security forces in “rooting out the final remnants” of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS).

The remaining soldiers will continue to cooperate with Iraqi security forces in efforts for “rooting out the final remnants” of the Daesh/ISIS terror group, Mr McKenzie said.

US President Donald Trump reaffirmed last month that he planned to pull all troops out of Iraq as soon as possible.

Mr Trump is expected to hail the reduction of troops as progress towards his 2016 election campaign promise to disentangle the US from “endless wars”.

The US troops presence in Iraq has also become a major issue since the US killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad in January. US troops in Iraq targeted Qasem Soleimani, commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Quds Force unit vehicle at Baghdad International Airport just after he landed there.

The deputy head of the Iran-backed Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and head of protocol of the PMF were among those killed.

Days later of the attack on Gen Solaimani, the Iraqi parliament passed a bill directing the government to end operations by foreign forces on Iraqi soil, although that has not yet been implemented.

The US has also accused Iran-backed Iraqi militias of stepping up rocket attacks on bases housing its forces since then, including one in March that killed two Americans and one British soldier.