'Magnet for Terrorists': Iraqi Shiite Groups Reportedly Demand US Withdrawal

07 February, 2018, 02:06 | Author: Charlene Valdez
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Reports say USA forces are beginning to reduce their presence in Iraq, following the defeat of the Islamic State.

The Iraqi spokesperson stressed the drawdown was still in its early stages and does not mark the beginning of a complete pullout of U.S. forces.

The troops were part of the US -led worldwide coalition that has also been conducting air raids against IS targets in both Iraq and Syria. They said US soldiers, weapons and equipment were being transported out of Iraq and sent to Afghanistan.

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An Associated Press reporter at the Al-Asad base in western Iraq saw troop movements reflecting the account by contractors.

US military personnel records made public last fall indicated that there may have been as many as 9,000 American troops in Iraq assisting with the advise-and-assist mission with the Iraqi military.

In 2003, an American-led invasion toppled Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and troops engaged in extended fighting across the country, battling an insurgency and later sectarian violence.

The coalition statement revealed its troops would remain in Iraq as IS extremists "continue to pose a threat" to the country's security and risk transition back into an insurgency.

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One of the USA soldiers at Ain Assad Airbase, was quoted saying as, "We've had a recent change of mission and soon we'll be supporting a different theatre of operations in the coming month".

Their ongoing presence is politically sensitive for Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is facing national elections in March.

Human Rights Watch said in December that hundreds of detainees held by the Iraqi Kurdish authorities in Kirkuk were feared to have been "forcibly disappeared". Raymond declined to specify where his unit was going because the information has not yet been made public. At their peak, U.S. troop levels in Iraq stood near 166,000.

Iraq declared the defeat of IS in December - a major victory for country which once saw almost one-third of its territory controlled by the group. In 2014, Daesh (IS) controlled almost a third of Iraqi territory.

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