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US Troops in Iraq to Shift Mission As ISIS Threat Changes

07 February 2018, 12:45 | Darnell Patrick

US Troops in Iraq to Shift Mission As ISIS Threat Changes

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American troops are leaving Iraq for Afghanistan as part of an agreement between Baghdad and the US-led coalition, contractors told AP.

A spokesman from the Information Office of the Iraqi Prime Minister Saad Al-Hadithi said Iraq has reached a preliminary agreement with the U.S. to begin reducing the American military presence as well as the presence of worldwide coalition forces in general.

The Iraqi government spokesman spokesman Saad al-Hadithi framed this to the AP as "a message to those who doubt the government's decisions regarding the presence of American (forces in Iraq): There are rules and the promise of a withdrawal". In the announcement, Mattis said the U.S.' new focus would be on rising powers like China and Russian Federation as opposed to terrorism.

Around 5.5 million people have been displaced from their homes during the anti-Daesh fight in Iraq with the Iraqi government saying nearly half of them have been returned to their areas.

The move marks a shift in priorities for the USA after the collapse of the extremists' so-called caliphate late a year ago.

In the lead-up to the Iraqi elections set for May, the indefinite presence of US troops in the country continues to be a divisive issue. Raymond declined to specify where his unit was being redeployed, in line with regulations as the information has not yet been made public. "We will sustain the successful momentum and enhance the capacities of the Iraqi Security Forces in pursuing Daesh, now and in the future", said Braga.

Two major Iraqi Shi'ite groups backed by Iran are demanding all US forces leave Iraq, opposing plans by Baghdad and Washington to keep some there for training and advisory purposes.

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The worldwide anti-terrorist coalition, led by the United States, assisted Iraqi forces in recapturing territory seized by Daesh jihadists, including the liberation operation of the country's second-largest city Mosul.

"That's correct, but I can not talk numbers and specifics on the shift", Pahon said Monday when asked to confirm media reports that USA troops in Iraq will be moved to Afghanistan.

Several weeks ago, US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said the mission would change from taking territory from IS to one of stabilisation.

Iraq's military declared in December that it had "fully liberated" Iraq from ISIS and retaken full control of the Iraqi-Syrian border.

The terror group surrendered control of 98 percent of its territory in the region and now occupies only two percent of land near the Syrian city of Al-Shaafah, where the strike occurred. US troop numbers eventually wound down to 40,000 before the complete withdrawal in 2011.

While IS' self-styled caliphate stretching across Iraq and Syria has crumbled and the militants no longer hold a contiguous stretch of territory, in Iraq, the group continues to pose a security risk, according to Iraqi and American officials.



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