USA forces begin reducing numbers in Iraq: Iraqi spokesman

On Monday, spokesperson for Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi's office, Saad al-Hadithi confirmed to AP: "The US forces drawdown from Iraq has started after Baghdad announced its victory over ISIS".

While noting that 98 percent of Daesh-held territory in Iraq and Syria had been recovered, the statement said the terror group still has the ability to carry out lethal attacks and poses a potent threat to civilians and the region's stability. Some 4,000 US troops will continue training Iraqi army. He spoke to the AP on Monday afternoon in Baghdad.

Over the past two years, the U.S. -led coalition that is fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria has managed to cut the militants' oil revenues to less than US$4 million monthly from a peak of US$50 million, statistics by the coalition provided to USA TODAY in October 2017 showed.

There were roughly 9,000 US troops in Iraq last September, according to a Pentagon report.

US officials say that while Islamic State has lost most of the territory it once controlled in Iraq and Syria, there is concern about surviving fighters returning to insurgency tactics.

This is for the e first time since the war against Daesh (IS) was launched three years ago.

"Continued coalition presence in will be conditions-based, proportional to the need and in coordination with the government of", coalition spokesman Army Col. Ryan Dillon told the AP when asked for comment.

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He also said the athletes who trained at the ranch "deserve to know that no stone is left unturned". The Walker County Sheriff's Office is also now investigating the matter.

As of late September previous year there were 8,892 US troops in Iraq.

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

The United States has more than 5,000 troops in Iraq.

The unnamed officials told Reuters the operation to secure the Hamrin mountain range-which lies between oil fields in Kirkuk and the town of Khanaqin at the Iranian border-could begin this week.

"Great power competition, not terrorism, is now the primary focus of US national security", Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said last month in remarks outlining the strategy. The terrorist group swept through Iraq in 2014, and at its height controlled a third of Iraqi territory.

While defeated on the battlefield, USA military planners have expected ISIS to switch to insurgent tactics, carrying out high-profile terror attacks in Iraq. USA troop numbers eventually reduced to 40,000 before the complete withdrawal in 2011. US troop numbers eventually wound down to 40,000 before the complete withdrawal in 2011.

  • Sonia Alvarado