The Iraqi prime minister says as many as 2,500 US troops have left the country as part of agreements reached with Washington to enable a full withdrawal of American troops.
Mustafa al-Kadhimi made the announcement on Saturday in an interview with the state al-Iraqiya television.
He called the development a great success that had come by as a result of strategic talks with the United States.
Al-Kadhimi traveled to Washington at the head of a ranking delegation on August 20 to hold talks with American officials.
US President Donald Trump announced back then that the two sides had agreed that American forces would leave Iraq over a three-year period.
Al-Kadhimi said, before going on the trip, he had met with all of Iraq’s political officials and that some of them had urged him to negotiate an eight-year withdrawal plan.
The premier then expressed delight that he had been able to negotiate a shorter timetable.
The US invaded Iraq in 2003 opening a second major front in its so-called war on terror that had seen it attacking Afghanistan two years earlier. The invasion toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, but was followed by rampant instability as well as deadly and ruinous ethnic violence.
In 2014, the Arab country was overrun by the terror group Daesh that emerged amid the chaos resulting from the invasion. The United States and scores of its allies then reinforced their presence in Iraq, this time under the pretext of seeking to uproot the terrorists.
Despite its sheer size, the coalition was, however, surprisingly slow in making advances against Daesh.
Baghdad eventually defeated the terrorist outfit in late 2017, with military advisory support from its closest regional ally Iran playing a central role in the victory.
In early January, the US assassinated Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, former commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), who steered the provision of advisory assistance to both Iraq and Syria.
The Iraqi parliament voted overwhelmingly soon afterwards in favor of legislation that ordered the full withdrawal of all US-led forces from the country.
Threat of US embassy closure
Al-Kadhimi, meanwhile, addressed Washington’s threat of closing down its embassy in Baghdad in response to rocket attacks that sporadically target the diplomatic mission’s compound and its vicinity.
He said Baghdad realized Washington’s unease with the situation, but added that threatening to isolate Iraq would directly impact its economy, most of whose overseas deposits are held in the United States.