ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The number of foreign forces in Iraq reduced by a quarter last year, Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said on Tuesday.
“In January 2018, there had been almost 11,000 foreign fighters, about 70 percent of them are American, the others are from other countries,” Abdul-Mahdi told reporters during his weekly press briefing.
“In December, the numbers have been reduced to almost 8,000, and the American troops are around 6,000... maybe I am wrong by some hundreds,” he added.
Iraq declared a final victory against the Islamic State in December 2017, and over 12 months later, the withdrawal of US-led coalition troops in the country is accelerating, Abdul-Mahdi stated.
“In recent months, the decrease has sped up, and in the last two months, there was a drop of 1,000 forces.”
US President Donald Trump recently decided to withdraw American forces from Syria but stressed that US troops would remain in Iraq where they will be available to take necessary actions against the Islamic State on the other side of the border.
After toppling the authoritarian regime in Iraq in 2003, the US pulled its forces from the country in 2011. However, following the rise of the Islamic State in 2014, the US along with its global coalition, re-deployed its troops to the country to train local forces against the militant group.
Over a year after Baghdad declared victory against the extremist group, Islamic State sleeper cells continue to carry out attacks, ambushes, and kidnappings in different provinces across central and northern Iraq.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany