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Photo Credit: U.S. Army National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Leland White

BEIRUT, LEBANON (8:40 P.M.) – The spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, Major General Tahsin Al-Khafaji, announced on Friday, the withdrawal of the first batch of U.S. forces from Iraq, according to the agreement with Washington.

Al-Khafaji said in a statement to Russia’s Sputnik Agency that the American forces in Iraq are not combat units, adding: “We only have those who meet the support for air strikes to target ISIS remnants, and logistical and advisory.”

“Today, the American forces began to withdraw and the number is 500, who were announced in accordance with the agreement between Baghdad and Washington recently,” he said.

The spokesperson for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command noted that the “withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq will take place within a very short period, according to a schedule between Iraq and the United States, and according to specific timings.”

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fouad Hussein revealed last Wednesday that Baghdad and Washington had reached an agreement to withdraw 500 American soldiers from Iraq, following discussions that took place during a phone call between the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kazemi, and the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo .

Hussein announced that the total number of U.S. forces in Iraq will be reduced to 2,500 soldiers, pointing out that the remaining forces are not combat units, and that the Iraqi government will continue to coordinate with the U.S. administration, especially in the field of intelligence, military advice and troop training.

The new acting U.S. Secretary of Defense, Christopher Miller, expressed his intention to accelerate the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and the Middle East, saying, “The time has come to return to the homeland. All wars must end,” in his first message to the U.S. armed forces.