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World News

U.S. expected to reduce troops in Iraq by a third to about 3,500 - official

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is expected to reduce its troops presence in Iraq by about a third in the coming months, a U.S. official said on Friday, a move that had been expected after President Donald Trump’s administration committed to a reduction recently.

The United States has around 5,200 troops that were deployed in Iraq to fight the Islamic State militant group. Officials in the U.S.-led coalition say Iraqi forces are now mostly able to handle the remnants of Islamic State on their own.

The United States and Iraq in June affirmed their commitment to the reduction of U.S. troops in the country in coming months, with no plans by Washington to maintain permanent bases or a permanent military presence.

In 2016 Trump campaigned on ending America’s “endless wars,” but U.S. troops remain in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, albeit in smaller numbers.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States would go down to about 3,500 troops in Iraq in the next two to three months.

The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This month during a meeting with the Iraqi prime minister, President Donald Trump redoubled his promise to withdraw the U.S. troops still in Iraq.

Trump’s meeting with the Iraqi leader came amid a new spike in tensions between Washington and Tehran after Washington said it would seek to reinstate all previously suspended U.S. sanctions on Iran at the United Nations.

Iraq’s parliament had voted earlier this year for the departure of foreign troops from Iraq, and United States and other coalition troops have been leaving as part of a drawdown.

The numbers of troops to be withdrawn was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by David Gregorio

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