U.S. starts drawdown of troops in Iraq after declaring victory over ISIS

The Rouhani Barzani meeting

On Monday, U.S. media reported that U.S. and Iraqi sources had confirmed the beginning of the drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq, with soldiers and weaponry reassigned to Afghanistan.

Glynn pledged continued support for 's security forces, but acknowledged US -led coalition "capabilities" in would likely shift now that conventional combat operations against the group have largely ceased.

"We are serious about getting the Americans out, using the force of arms because the Americans don't understand any other language", its spokesman Jaafar al-Husseini said, reiterating the group's threats, broadcast on Beirut-based al-Mayadeen TV on February 5.

Dozens of American soldiers have already been transported from Iraq to Afghanistan on daily flights over the past week. The contractors spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations and declined to reveal the exact size of the drawdown.

In the announcement, Mattis said the U.S.' new focus would be on rising powers like China and Russian Federation as opposed to terrorism.

The US combat mission in Iraq ended in 2010 but some American troops remained in the country to train and assist Iraqi forces.

"We will sustain the successful momentum and enhance the capacities of the Iraqi Security Forces in pursuing Daesh (ISIS), now and in the future", said coalition spokesman Army Colonel Ryan Dillon said in a tweet.

If the drawdown is true, it represents the first of its kind since the war against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) was launched over three years ago.

The U.S. first launched airstrikes against the Daesh terror group in Iraq in August 2014. The presence of United States troops grew, however, as Iraq's military struggled to roll back the extremists.

However, the Iraqi government said the process has not officially begun.

Iraqi special forces raided a hideout of Daesh militants in al-Bir town, 45 kilometers southeast of Mosul upon a tip-off from local residents, Lieutenant-Colonel Abdel-Salam al-Jabouri told Anadolu Agency.

While defeated on the battlefield, USA military planners have expected ISIS to switch to insurgent tactics, carrying out high-profile terror attacks in Iraq.