UNITED STATES—On Wednesday, September 9, General Kenneth F. Mackenzie Jr. announced that the United States will pull out 2,200 of 5,200 troops from Iraq by the end of September.
In an effort to withdraw the United States from “endless wars,” President Donald Trump met with Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi of Iraq in Washington on August 20.
“We’ve brought [the troops] down to a very, very low level. We deal — where there are attacks, we take care of those attacks…But we have been taking our troops out of Iraq fairly rapidly, and we look forward to the day when we don’t have to be there. And hopefully Iraq can live their own lives and they can defend themselves, which they’ve been doing long before we got involved,” said Trump at the bilateral meeting.
Gen. McKenzie, who is the commander of the United States Central Command, stated, “This reduced footprint allows us to continue advising and assisting our Iraqi partners in rooting out the final remnants of ISIS in Iraq and ensuring its enduring defeat.”
He added, “This decision is due to our confidence in the Iraqi security forces’ increased ability to operate independently. 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.”
Gen. McKenzie later explained that the Pentagon was on track to drop to approximately 4,500 of 8,600 troops in Afghanistan.
Over 700 American troops will stay in Syria, mostly in the northeast to assist Syrian Kurdish allies combat ISIS guerrilla fighters. To protect oil fields in that region that are wanted by President Bashar al-Assad.
Tensions have been high in Iraq following the assassinations of Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and pro-Iranian Iraq militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. The strike prompted many Iraqi leaders to call on the U.S. to withdraw entirely.