The Pentagon will scale down the U.S. military presence in Iraq this month by more than 2,000 troops, the top commander in the Middle East said Wednesday.
Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, told reporters in Baghdad the troop level will decrease from about 5,200 to 3,000 by the end of the month.
“This decision is due to our confidence in the Iraqi Security Forces’ increased ability to operate independently,” Gen. McKenzie said. “The U.S. decision is a clear demonstration of our continued commitment to the ultimate goal, which is an Iraqi Security Force that is capable of preventing an ISIS resurgence and of securing Iraq’s sovereignty without external assistance.
McKenzie said the top goal is to develop local security forces so they can effectively fight the Islamic State, which once controlled vast sections of Iraq.
The US military withdrew from Iraq in late 2011, leaving a small mission attached to the US embassy.
But additional American forces were deployed a few years later to support Iraqi forces in their war against Islamic State, which carried out a devastating offensive in the summer of 2014.
U.S. president, Donald Trump has previously promised to bring home American soldiers in a bid to end what he has called “America’s endless wars.”
Story compiled from wire reports