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U.S.-Led Coalition Announces Shift In 'Focus' In Iraq

U.S. soldiers ride in a helicopter at a military base north of Mosul in January 2017.

The U.S.-led coalition against the extremist group Islamic State (IS) says it will "shift its focus" in Iraq away from combat operations against the militants.

The coalition said in a February 5 statement that the focus now will be on consolidating military gains made against the IS group, which seized large swathes of Iraqi and Syrian territory in summer 2014.

In December, Iraq's Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced victory over the IS group, but the coalition said the militants were "still capable of offensive action."

"We will retain an appropriate amount of capabilities as well as an advisory presence to continue training, advising, and equipping our partners in the continued fight against Daesh," it said, referring to the IS group by one of its Arabic acronyms.

Meanwhile, the AP news agency reported that the United States had started to reduce the number of its troops in Iraq.

It quoted Western contractors as saying that dozens of U.S. soldiers had been transported from Iraq to Afghanistan on daily flights in the past week, along with weapons and equipment.

As of late September, there were nearly 9,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, according to the Pentagon.

With reporting by AP