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US troops in Iraq cut by up to 20 percent: US general
Yahoo News/AFP
January 28, 2006

KUWAIT CITY (AFP) - The United States has reduced its forces in Iraq by up to 20 percent in the last two months, but may choose to raise the number of troops if the situation worsens, a top US General reportedly said.

"We have reduced our forces already in Iraq by about 15 or 20 percent over the past couple of months," General John Abizaid, commander of the US Central Command, told Kuwaiti daily Al-Qabas.

"I would expect that they will continue to come down, but only based on the degree of stability that is achieved there. You wont see a rapid withdrawal of American forces," he said.

"You will see American forces starting to come down as Iraqi forces start to come up, but if there is a spike in the security situation that would send Iraq in a bad direction, we are also willing to put in additional forces. So, well judge it," he said.

Abizaid said that about 220,000 Iraqis are currently serving either in the police or in the armed forces that have "good capacity to ultimately defend Iraq and work against the insurgents and the terrorists."

He said stability would only return to Iraq with improvements on the political, security and economic levels.

Veteran Democrat Congressman John Murtha said earlier this month he expected the US administration to be forced to pull out all troops from Iraq by the end of the year.

More than 140,000 US soldiers are currently deployed in Iraq.

Commentary:
The Murtha pull-out continues as planned.