Published: Wed, February 07, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

Are US Troops in Iraq Staying or Going? Depends Who You Ask

Are US Troops in Iraq Staying or Going? Depends Who You Ask

The US has started to reduce its number of troops in Iraq following Baghdad's victory over ISIS past year, according to an Iraqi government spokesman and western contractors.

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". However, Iraq's Shiite-led paramilitary forces have called for a withdraw of U.S. forces, while Prime Minister Abadi has said that Iraq's military will need American training for years to come.

The transport of crude was supposed to begin last week, but oil officials in Iraq said the delay was "technical in nature", Reuters reported.

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

On Monday, spokesperson for Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi's office, Saad al-Hadithi confirmed to AP: "The US forces drawdown from Iraq has started after Baghdad announced its victory over ISIS".

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Are US Troops in Iraq Staying or Going? Depends Who You Ask

Despite the reduced number of US troops, ISIS remains a threat, according to American and Iraqi officials.

If the drawdown is true, it represents the first of its kind since the war against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) was launched over three years ago.

A Pentagon report released in November said there were 8,892 US troops in as of late September.

Iraq's military declared in December that it had "fully liberated" Iraq from ISIS and retaken full control of the Iraqi-Syrian border. 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.

Some reports suggest the area contains a militant group known as the "White Flag" which is comprised of Sunni fighters of various backgrounds fighting against Iraqi security forces, namely the Hashd al-Shaabi militias. At a press briefing last month U.S. Marine Corps Brig. USA troop numbers eventually reduced to 40,000 before the complete withdrawal in 2011.

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