US announces troop drawdown in Iraq

The US commander in the Middle East announced Wednesday a drawdown of US troops in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000 in the month of September."This reduced fo...

Posted: Sep 9, 2020 9:34 AM

The US commander in the Middle East announced Wednesday a drawdown of US troops in Iraq from 5,200 to 3,000 in the month of September.

"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," Gen. Frank McKenzie, commander of US Central Command, said.

McKenzie said the decision is due to the United States' "confidence in the Iraqi Security Forces' increased ability to operate independently."

A senior administration official told reporters on Tuesday to also expect an announcement on troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in a couple days.

The decision to pull back US troops from Iraq has long been expected and comes as President Donald Trump attempts to deliver on his 2016 campaign promises while facing a tough reelection. Trump was recently visibly distressed over the fallout that ensued from an article in The Atlantic, alleging that he privately disparaged the war dead, and feared losing support with the military. Trump has forcefully denied he made those comments.

But in a Labor Day news conference, Trump accused top Pentagon military leaders of being beholden to defense contractors, an unprecedented attack from the commander in chief as he tries to convince the American public he did not denigrate US military personnel.

In recent months, training and advising of Iraqi forces has been scaled back due to the coronavirus, and other coalition allies have also withdrawn their troops.

In March, US forces began pulling back from bases across Iraq, turning them over to Iraqi security partners. At the time, Pentagon officials insisted that the base hand-offs were part of a long-planned consolidation that reflected the success of the anti-ISIS fight -- not concerns over the ongoing rocket attacks by Iran-linked proxy militias.

"The threat against our forces from Shiite militant groups has caused us to put resources that we would otherwise use against ISIS to provide for our own defense and that has lowered our ability to work effectively against them," McKenzie said in late August.

On Wednesday, McKenzie reiterated that justification, saying that Iraqi security forces had improved their ability to fight ISIS and that "the fact that we're getting smaller is actually a sign of campaign progress."

But the CENTCOM commander also explicitly linked the withdrawals to the threat from Iran.

"Over the last seven or eight months, we have had to devote resources to self-protection that we would otherwise devote for the counter-ISIS fight and we've had to pull back and our partners have had to pull back," he said. "At the same time we've done things to harden our positions to make it more difficult for Iran to attack us in Iraq -- but it has had an effect."

The US has been under pressure from some elements of Iraq's political system to withdraw American troops from Iraq following the Trump administration's decision to kill Iranian Gen. Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike in January while he was traveling in Baghdad. That strike also killed a leader of an Iranian-backed militia group that is ostensibly part of Iraq's security forces.

After the targeted killing, Iraq's parliament voted to expel the US military and hundreds of thousands of protesters marched through Baghdad calling for US troops to leave the country, but the Trump administration said it did not intend to pull troops out.

CNN previously reported that the Trump administration plans to reduce the number of US troops in Afghanistan from 8,600 to 4,500, which would be the lowest number since the very earliest days of the Afghanistan war.

Under an agreement signed with the Taliban in February, the US committed to pulling all of its troops out of Afghanistan by next April, if the Taliban upheld certain commitments in the agreement.

The US is also withdrawing nearly 12,000 troops from NATO-ally Germany -- a move that will cost billions to execute and take years to relocate the troops. The decision has also been met with bipartisan congressional opposition amid concerns that it may encourage Russian aggression.

In August, Trump met with Iraq's new prime minister, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, in the Oval Office and reiterated his plan to remove troops from Iraq.

"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," Trump said.

This story has been updated.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 503322

Reported Deaths: 10057
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34400541
DeSoto32318411
Hinds32074631
Jackson24551386
Rankin22103391
Lee15657235
Madison14662281
Jones13894243
Forrest13506253
Lauderdale12037318
Lowndes11091192
Lamar10531138
Pearl River9557238
Lafayette8581140
Hancock7751130
Washington7458161
Oktibbeha7152133
Monroe6796178
Warren6752176
Pontotoc6736104
Neshoba6656206
Panola6572131
Marshall6494135
Bolivar6331150
Union607794
Pike5849154
Alcorn5691102
Lincoln5468135
George502979
Scott474198
Tippah472481
Prentiss471582
Leflore4676144
Itawamba4651105
Tate4632111
Adams4617120
Copiah450092
Simpson4458116
Yazoo445388
Wayne440772
Covington429894
Sunflower4246105
Marion4236108
Coahoma4178108
Leake409888
Newton383179
Grenada3731108
Tishomingo361592
Stone360664
Jasper336565
Attala335290
Winston315391
Clay309077
Chickasaw302367
Clarke295894
Calhoun279947
Holmes268788
Smith266550
Yalobusha237247
Tallahatchie228752
Greene220649
Walthall219364
Lawrence213640
Perry206456
Amite206056
Webster203446
Noxubee186940
Montgomery179757
Jefferson Davis172243
Carroll169639
Tunica160139
Benton149439
Kemper142141
Choctaw134627
Claiborne132838
Humphreys129738
Franklin120728
Quitman106828
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson95934
Sharkey64220
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 821255

Reported Deaths: 15424
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1149051930
Mobile726651340
Madison52400699
Shelby37685350
Baldwin37285552
Tuscaloosa35147613
Montgomery34130740
Lee23556246
Calhoun22255490
Morgan21037378
Etowah19844500
Marshall18390304
Houston17406412
St. Clair16091339
Cullman15493293
Limestone15402199
Elmore15292286
Lauderdale14366295
Talladega13870283
DeKalb12670261
Walker11255370
Blount10227176
Autauga10061148
Jackson9909185
Coffee9215191
Dale8912186
Colbert8907201
Tallapoosa7103198
Escambia6782134
Covington6724183
Chilton6658162
Russell637659
Franklin5992105
Chambers5615142
Marion5016127
Dallas5013202
Pike4799106
Clarke477284
Geneva4577127
Winston4538103
Lawrence4352117
Bibb425686
Barbour358376
Marengo338390
Monroe332064
Randolph330264
Butler328596
Pickens317384
Henry313166
Hale311988
Cherokee303260
Fayette294580
Washington251651
Cleburne247960
Clay245568
Crenshaw245475
Macon235563
Lamar225747
Conecuh186654
Coosa180940
Lowndes175764
Wilcox169139
Bullock151844
Perry139240
Sumter133338
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
55° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 55°
Columbus
Clear
58° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 53°
Feels Like: 58°
Oxford
Clear
54° wxIcon
Hi: 73° Lo: 51°
Feels Like: 54°
Starkville
Clear
57° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 57°
High pressure leaves our area overnight and allows room for some low pressure and a cold front to move into our area on Wednesday. This will bring some good chances for some rain and isolated thunderstorms into our area during later portions of our Wednesday.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather