The U.S. will move troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, however, the shift will not represent a large “exodus” of soldiers from the country, Department of Defence spokesman Eric Pahon told Sputnik.
“That’s correct, but I cannot talk numbers and specifics on the shift,” Pahon said Monday when asked to confirm media reports that U.S. troops in Iraq will be moved to Afghanistan.
Earlier in the day, Iraq’s government spokesman Saad Al-Hadithi said the United States had started a gradual reduction of its troops in the country.
Pahon said: “there is a downward trend in U.S. troops there [in Iraq], yes, but not a huge impending exodus.
“We’ll continue our presence as long as the Iraqis ask us to.”
The U.S.-led coalition has said in a press release on Monday it would switch operations in Iraq from its combat phase to sustaining and securing gains made against the Islamic State terrorist group.
In August 2017, President Donald Trump announced a new Afghanistan strategy, in which he pledged to continue U.S. support for the Afghan government and military.
Trump also said the mandate of U.S. troops to target terrorists in Afghanistan would be expanded and approved sending an additional 4,000 troops to the country.