U.S. to reduce troops in Iraq to about 3,500: media

Source: Xinhua| 2020-08-29 02:05:47|Editor: huaxia

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- The Pentagon will cut one-third of U.S. military presence in Iraq, bringing U.S. troops number in the country from about 5,200 down to 3,500, U.S. media reported on Friday.

Quoting several U.S. officials, The Wall Street Journal wrote in a piece that the Pentagon over the next two or three months would reduce military presence in Iraq by roughly one-third.

That would bring U.S. force levels roughly back to where they were in 2015 when the United States was in the early phase of its campaign against the Islamic State, according to the report.

The report said the actual number of troops left might be slightly more than 3,500, due to Pentagon counting rules that often exclude troops on temporary assignments.

Currently, there are over 5,000 U.S. troops deployed in Iraq to support Iraqi forces in battles against remnants of the Islamic State, mainly for training and advisory purposes.

The United States and Iraq held a strategic dialogue in June, the joint statement of which said that the United States would reduce forces from Iraq over the coming months.

Commander of U.S. Central Command Kenneth McKenzie said at a think tank event earlier this month that he expected the U.S. military to maintain a long-term presence in Iraq to help fight Islamic extremists and to check Iranian influence in the country.

U.S. killing of Qassem Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, at Baghdad airport in early January strained its relations with Iraq. The Iraqi parliament passed a resolution on Jan. 5 requiring the government to end the presence of foreign forces in Iraq.

The military bases housing U.S. troops across Iraq and other U.S. facilities have been frequently targeted by mortar and rocket attacks in recent months.

As the presidential election looms, President Donald Trump has recently doubled down on the effort of pulling his country out of "endless wars."

Last week, he reiterated his intention to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq, but no detailed timeframe has been released yet. "At some point, we obviously will be gone. We've brought it down to a very, very low level," Trump told reporters in the White House during his meeting with visiting Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi on Aug. 20.

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Mark Esper confirmed that U.S. troops in Afghanistan would be reduced to less than 5,000 by the end of November. Enditem