Rudaw

  In Rudaw 

More than half of American forces will have withdrawn from Iraq in ‘coming days’: PM Kadhimi

Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi confirmed on Tuesday that “more than half” of American forces in Iraq will have withdrawn within the “coming days”, during a televised speech for the occasion of the Iraqi Army’s 100th anniversary.

As a result of Iraq’s strategic dialogue initiative with the US, “batches of American forces have been withdrawn during the past months, and more than half of those forces will be withdrawn in the coming days,” Kadhimi said in his Tuesday speech.

He added that only “hundreds” will remain for training, technical support and armament.

Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) spokesman Wayne Marotto told Rudaw in December that the US would be drawing down its Coalition troops to 2,500 by January 15. The decision to scale-down was first announced by Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller in mid-November.

As of January 2020, the US had roughly 5,000 troops stationed across military bases of Iraq to advise, assist, and train Iraqi forces in the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) groups.

The number was drawn down to 3,000 in a decision by the Pentagon in September.

The US has previously threatened to withdraw all troops and close its embassy if Kadhimi was unable to rein in Iran-backed groups believed to be behind frequent attacks against western targets, many of which are in or linked to the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, or Hashd al-Shaabi) – an umbrella network of militias.

Washington and Baghdad have had a rocky relationship in recent years, exacerbated by mounting tensions between the US and its adversary, Iran.

Following the US assassination of Iranian General Qasem Soleimani and Iraqi militia chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on January 3, Shiite blocs in the Iraqi parliament passed a resolution demanding the expulsion of US forces.

“It was truly regrettable that Iraq, which is the descendant of civilization and the gate of history, turned into an arena for liquidations and challenges of a global and regional war on its soil,” Kadhimi added on Tuesday.

“Iraq’s sovereignty over every inch of its land will not be a mere slogan for political deliberation, but rather a tangible act,” he added. Source