ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – American troops have begun a drawdown from Iraq following an announcement in December by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi signaling the military defeat of the Islamic State (IS), an Iraqi government spokesperson said on Monday.
Saad al-Hadithi, a spokesperson for the Iraqi government, told the Associated Press that US forces had started to withdraw from the country after IS’ defeat.
“The battle against Da’esh has ended, and so the level of the American presence will be reduced,” he stated, using an Arabic acronym for the extremist group.
Hadithi noted that the reduction of troops was in its “early stages” and did not signal the start of a complete withdrawal of US forces in the country.
Meanwhile, a US military spokesperson, Col. Ryan Dillon of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve, did not deny the reports about troops leaving Iraq.
Dillon told CBS News that the US-led military coalition’s presence in Iraq “will be conditions-based, proportional to the need [and determined] in coordination with the government of Iraq.”
The US was one of the first to launch airstrikes against IS when the group emerged in 2014 and took over large swaths of territory in Iraq. Since then, they have supported Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi forces in the ongoing campaign to defeat the extremists.
The news of US troops preparing to leave was first reported by Western contractors at a coalition base in Iraq who said dozens of soldiers had left on daily flights over the past week.
American soldiers, weapons, and equipment are reportedly being transported and sent to Afghanistan where the US army continues its fight against both the Taliban and IS, the contractors told AP.