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People's Daily Online

Iraqi official says Iraq, U.S. agree to cut troops in September

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 09:36, September 10, 2020

BAGHDAD, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- Spokesman of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) said on Wednesday that the U.S. decision to cut its troops in Iraq came within an agreed timetable between the Iraqi government and the United States.

"The latest step to cut the number of U.S. troops came as a result of coordination and joint work between us and the U.S.-led international coalition forces," Tahseen al-Khafaji, the JOC spokesman, told the official Iraqi News Agency.

Al-Khafaji's comment came after Kenneth McKenzie, the head of the U.S. military's Central Command, said that the Pentagon will draw down the level of U.S. troops in Iraq to 3,000 this month.

"In consultation and coordination with the government of Iraq and our coalition partners, the United States has decided to reduce our troop presence in Iraq from about 5,200 to 3,000 troops during the month of September," McKenzie said in Iraq.

On Aug. 20, U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed to Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, who was on an official visit to the United States, that the U.S.-led coalition forces will rapidly withdraw from Iraq within three years.

The withdrawal came as unidentified militant groups have frequently targeted Iraqi military bases housing U.S. troops across Iraq, as well as the U.S. embassy in the Green Zone, by mortar and rocket attacks.

The troops' cut decision came as the Iraqi-U.S. relations have witnessed a tension since Jan. 3 when a U.S. drone struck a convoy at Baghdad airport, which killed Qassem Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of Iraq's paramilitary Hashd Shaabi forces.

More than 5,000 U.S. troops have been deployed in Iraq to support the Iraqi forces in the battles against the Islamic State militants, mainly providing training and advising to the Iraqi forces.

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