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US Pulling Troops from Iraq After Crushing ISIS

07 February 2018

US forces have begun reducing their numbers in Iraq after Iraqi authorities declared "victory" over Islamic State, an Iraqi government spokesman said on Monday.

The troops were part of the US -led global coalition that has also been conducting air raids against IS targets in both Iraq and Syria.

"As a result of the successful operations by the Coalition and its partners, Daesh [Islamic State] has lost approximately 98 percent of the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria", the release said.

The U.S. ambassador Douglas Silliman had told local media "the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq has been decreased, especially in Anbar province in coordination with the Iraqi forces". He spoke to the AP on Monday afternoon in Baghdad.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in December in the three-year campaign by Iraqi forces to expel IS jihadists from the vast areas north and west of Baghdad.

They say USA soldiers, weapons and equipment are being transported out of Iraq to Afghanistan.

U.S. Army soldiers stands next to a guided-missile launcher, a few miles from the frontline, in the village of Abu Ghaddur, east of Tal Afar, Iraq.

According to one senior official who spoke to AP, 60 percent of the American troops now in Iraq will be withdrawn as part of the agreement, leaving around 4,000 to train the Iraqi military.

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The contractors and officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations and declined to reveal the exact size of the drawdown.

In the announcement, Mattis said the U.S.' new focus would be on rising powers like China and Russian Federation as opposed to terrorism.

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. In addition, formation of military units by volunteers, known as Hashd al-Shaabi or Popular Mobilization Units, in Iraq blunted the edge of ISIS offensive and later made the terror group withdraw from the territories it had occupied.

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

The United States has deployed about 2,000 soldiers in Syria and more than 5,000 in Iraq.

The spokesman said that coordination with the USA will be continuing, and U.S. officials have long suggested their presence in Iraq is "permanent", suggesting any drawdown would be limited. In 2014, at the height of the Sunni militant group's power, Daesh controlled almost a third of Iraqi territory.

IS maintains a "cellular structure" of fighters who carry out attacks in aimed at disrupting local security, U.S. Marine Corps Brig.

There were some 170,000 American troops in in 2007 at the height of the surge of USA forces to combat sectarian violence unleashed by the US -led invasion of the country to oust dictator Saddam Hussein.

US Pulling Troops from Iraq After Crushing ISIS