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Government Spokesman Says US Forces Begin Reducing Numbers in Iraq

Government Spokesman Says US Forces Begin Reducing Numbers in Iraq

The Iraqi government confirmed on Monday that the U.S. has started to drawdown its forces from Iraq, following Baghdad's declaration of victory over ISIS in December.

Now the US-led coalition and the Iraqi government have agreed to withdraw troops from the country.

The contractors say dozens of American soldiers have left on daily flights over the past week.

The Iraqi government spokesman told the Associated Press Reporter that: "The battle against Daesh has ended, and so the level of the American presence will be reduced".

"We will retain an appropriate amount of capabilities as well as an advisory presence to continue training, advising, and equipping our partners in the continued fight against Daesh", it said, referring to the IS group by one of its Arabic acronyms.

The 300 or so Americans account for about 1 percent of the estimated 30,000 foreign fighters who joined ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

A senior Iraqi official considered to be close to Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that 60 percent of all American troops now in country will be withdrawn.

According to the Western contractors, the drawdown began last week and a number of US troops have left bases on daily flights.




The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.

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. Some are still in Syria and Iraq and others may have been prevented from returning to the U.S.by Turkish authorities who have captured a large number of jihadis as they fled from the former caliphate.

The US first launched airstrikes against IS in Iraq in August 2014, as part of a military intervention which was initially described as "limited".

Raymond declined to say where his unit was being redeployed because the information has not yet been made public.

Since Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias took control of Kirkuk, the oil-rich city has experienced unprecedented security incidents including kidnappings, assassinations, and bombings.

The move comes just weeks after Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced the United States' new defense strategy.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, Isis control went from almost 50 per cent of Syrian territory to three per cent late previous year.

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