The US military is pulling its forces from a base in Iraq and shifting them to Afghanistan following the defeat of Daesh militants in the Arab country, the Associated Press reported on Monday.
The news agency quoted Western contractors at the base as saying that US troops began the drawdown over the past week, with groups of soldiers leaving the base on daily flights.
According to the report, the exact scale of the redeployment was unclear.
The BBC said more than 5,000 US troops were stationed in Iraq as of 2016, with nearly 4,000 others deployed later to purportedly assist local groups fighting Daesh. The remaining troops included special operations forces, logistics workers and soldiers on temporary rotations, the broadcaster said.
Iraqi officials said their government reached an agreement with the US to reduce the number of troops in Iraq, Fox News reported.
The news came amid reports of a tiff between Baghdad and Washington over the United States’ suspension of a maintenance program for Abrams tanks in Iraq.
It is also the latest sign of a growing US military buildup in Afghanistan, contrary to President Donald Trump’s election campaign promises to end the intervention.
Trump introduced a new Afghanistan strategy in August, hinting at relaxing the rules of engagement, accelerating strikes and other military actions aimed at producing “an honorable and enduring outcome”.
Since he took office, the number of troops has nearly doubled in Afghanistan – from 8,500 in early 2017 to 14,000 today.
According to The Washington Post, the US Army is floating plans to increase the total number of troops in Afghanistan by another 1,000.
The US invaded Afghanistan with the express aim of defeating Taliban but the militants are openly active in 70 percent of the country, a study released by the BBC said last Tuesday.
Worse still, Daesh has established a foothold in the war-torn country with its trademark brutal attacks.
On Tuesday, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said the US was transferring the Takfiri group from Iraq and Syria to Afghanistan in order “to justify the continuation of its presence in the region and to create security for the Zionist regime”.