The Trump administration is preparing to reduce the U.S. troop presence in Iraq by about one-third, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
There are currently 5,200 American service members stationed in Iraq. American officials told the Journal that the Pentagon is planning to reduce that number to 3,500 over the next two to three months.
The reduction would bring American troop levels in Iraq to roughly the same as in early 2015, when the U.S. began to intensify its campaign against ISIS.
The Pentagon has not publicly announced plans to bring troops back to the United States. Iraqi prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi visited the U.S. last week, and told reporters that “ISIS sleeper cells are still operating in Iraq.”
President Trump has pushed to withdraw as many American troops from the Middle East as possible, and has repeatedly vowed to end the war in Afghanistan. Around 8,600 U.S. soldiers remain in that country. A drawdown of troops from Iraq could allow Trump to tout the action going into the November 2020 election.
“Unlike previous administrations I have kept America out of new wars, and our troops are coming home,” Trump said at the Republican National Convention on Thursday. Trump has also pushed for a reduction of the U.S. military presence in Germany.