U.S. to gradually reduce troops in Iraq

U.S. to gradually reduce troops in Iraq

The statement did not disclose if the realignment of US personnel might lead to a future troop reduction though an Iraqi official told The Associated Press that USA troop levels could be reduced by 60 percent.

Two Iraqi officials told AP about the agreement which will see American soldiers leaving Iraq for the first time since the fight against the Islamic State (IS) militant group started in 2014.

Some foreign journalist confirmed the troops movement at Ain Asad base. "USA presence will be cause for internal polarization and a magnet for terrorists", Badr spokesman Kareem Nuri said.

The release of the names comes just three months ahead of national elections in the country, where Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi is hoping to remain in office for another term.

Last year, Abadi told Middle East Eye that Iraq wanted fewer USA forces on its territory after IS was eradicated.

"Continued Coalition presence in Iraq will be conditions-based, proportional to the need and in coordination with the government of Iraq", it concluded.

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

A Pentagon report in December stated that there were 8,892 U.S. troops in the country.

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The US military is starting to pull American troops from Iraq.

The U.S. first launched airstrikes against the Daesh terror group in Iraq in August 2014.

Iraqi forces backed by a US -led global coalition past year captured all the territory that fell under Islamic State control in 2014 and 2015, including the northern city of Mosul, which served as the militants' de facto capital. The prime minister has stated that Iraq's military will need US training for years to come.

Some in Iraq's Sunni minority community view the USA presence in Iraq as a buffer against the country's Shiite-dominated central government.

Iran, Russia, Iraq, and Syria held a meeting on Sunday under the chair of the Director of Military Intelligence of Iraq, Major General Saad Mezher al-Alaq and featuring Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Iraj Masjedi at the event.

However, the Iraqi officials said the process has not officially begun.

Iraqi special forces raided a hideout of Daesh militants in al-Bir town, 45 kilometers southeast of Mosul upon a tip-off from local residents, Lieutenant-Colonel Abdel-Salam al-Jabouri told Anadolu Agency.

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