Washington (People's Daily) – Marine General Frank McKenzie, the commander of the US Central Command, said on Wednesday that the US will reduce troop levels in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000 this month.
McKenzie said that the decision was made “in recognition of the great progress the Iraqi forces have made and in consultation and coordination with the government of Iraq and our coalition partners.”
The decision comes three weeks after Trump met with Mustafa al-Kadhimi, the Iraqi prime minister, in Washington.
“This reduced footprint allows us to continue advising and assisting our Iraqi partners in rooting out the final remnants of ISIS in Iraq and ensuring its enduring defeat,” McKenzie said.
The move would bring American force levels in Iraq roughly back to where they were in 2015, when the US was in the early phase of its campaign against the Islamic State, which captured one-third of the country.
According to the New York Times, the move eight weeks before the November presidential election allows Trump to tell voters he is fulfilling a campaign promise to bring home troops. US force levels in Iraq peaked at more than 150,000 service members at the height of the Iraq war.