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Iraq says USA downsizes troops in Iraq after IS defeat

Iraq says USA downsizes troops in Iraq after IS defeat

"There is a coordination with the Iraqi government and the United States to gradually reduce the number of the US troops in Iraq as victory has been achieved over IS group", spokesman Saad al-Hadithi told Xinhua via phone.

In public statements, USA officials have suggested that while the Iraqi-led coalition has taken back lands in Syria and Iraq, the threat remains real.

The Badr Organization, a Shi'ite group that has a minister in Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's government, in charge of the interior, said any remaining U.S, troops would be cause for instability.

The United States first launched airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq in August 2014 and in the following years closely backed key Iraqi military victories, including the retaking of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.

At the US-held base of al-Tanf, near Syria's border with Jordan and Iraq, one rebel fighter linked the resurgence to US-Iran tensions, which are likely to intensify after Washington announced this month that 2,000 US troops would remain in eastern Syria to deter Isis and counter Iran's growing presence.

The contractors say dozens of American soldiers have left on daily flights over the past week.

Colonel Ryan Dillon, the US-led coalition spokesman, denied the SDF was tolerating an Isis presence, arguing the sprawling desert terrain was harder to recapture than urban areas.

Western coalition officials say Assad's forces, which now control more than half of Syria, are too thinly stretched to keep Isis in check, especially as they launch new offensives against the rebels.

Oil prices sink as United States stock market slumps and dollar strengthens
Inventories are reported with a two-month lag, so by the time they have reached the five-year average, OPEC may be late to react. The investment bank said Brent likely will average $75 a barrel over the next three months, up from an earlier forecast of $62.

Iraq declared victory over IS in December after more than three years of grueling combat against the extremists in a war Iraqi forces fought with close US support.

According to a coalition press release, the enduring US military presence in Iraq will be conditions-based and "proportional to the need and in coordination with the government of Iraq".

According to the Western contractors, the drawdown began last week and a number of USA troops have left bases on daily flights.

The drawdown will be the first reduction in American troops in Iraq since the fight against ISIS started three years ago.

Last week, USA military spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon told CBN News in a satellite Pentagon briefing that the US-led military coalition's presence in Iraq "will be conditions-based, proportional to the need" and determined "in coordination with the government of Iraq".

Brigadier General Jonathan Braga, the coalition's director of operations, said "an appropriate amount of capabilities" would be kept in Iraq in addition to the forces needed to train, advise and equip the Iraqis. At the time the military intervention was described as "limited", but as Iraq's military struggled to roll back the extremists, the US -led coalition's footprint in the country steadily grew.

According to the report, issued by the Pentagon past year, some 8,892 U.S. troops had been deployed in Iraq.

Despite that information, the US military cites the official number of USA troops in Iraq as approximately 5,262.

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