The Trump administration is pulling nearly half of its troops out of Iraq. The US commander in the Middle East said Wednesday that troops would be reduced this month from 5,200 to 3,000—about the number that were in the country in 2015, during the early phase of a campaign against the Islamic State, per the New York Times. "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 from Iraq, citing "our confidence in the Iraqi security forces' increased ability to operate independently."
A senior administration official had tipped reporters off on Tuesday night, reports the AP. The official said the administration would also be announcing the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan in the coming days. The 8,600 troops there are expected to be reduced to under 5,000, per ABC News. President Trump made a 2016 campaign promise to withdraw the US from "endless wars." After meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi in August, Trump said "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." Al-Kadhimi noted "ISIS sleeper cells are still operating in Iraq," per the Times. "The threat is still there." (Read more US troops stories.)