The US will withdraw troops from Iraq following a deal between the US-led coalition and the Iraqi government, according to an Associated Press report.
Two Iraqi officials told AP about the agreement which will see American soldiers leaving Iraq for the first time since the fight against the Islamic State (IS) militant group started in 2014.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over IS in December after Iraqi forces drove its last remnants from the country, three years after the militant group captured about a third of Iraq’s territory.
According to one senior official who spoke to AP, 60 percent of the American troops currently in Iraq will be withdrawn as part of the agreement, leaving around 4,000 to train the Iraqi military.
Western contractors told AP that troops had already started to draw down and an AP reporter at Al-Asad, a large airfield in Anbar province, saw activities associated which confirmed their accounts, but Iraqi officials said the withdrawal had not yet started.
The reported agreement comes three months ahead of Iraqi elections in which the presence of US troops in the country is expected to be a divisive issue.
Last year, Abadi told that Iraq wanted fewer US forces on its territory after IS was eradicated.
“As we are crushing Daesh [IS], it is clear that there is a need to reduce the number of our allies who are helping us,” he said.
US Army 1st Lt William John Raymond based at Al-Asad told AP: “We’re had a recent change of mission and soon we’ll be supporting a different theater of operations in the coming month.”
Raymond declined to say where his unit was being redeployed because the information has not yet been made public.