The U.S. has begun withdrawing troops originally sent to the Middle East in the wake of the killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, as Iran sees the worst outbreak of Wuhan coronavirus in the region.
Around 1,000 troops have returned from Kuwait over the past two weeks, while an additional 2,000 are expected to return in the near future, the Wall Street Journal reported.
After President Trump ordered the drone strike on Soleimani, the Pentagon deployed additional troops to bases in the region to counter a possible Iranian reprisal against American or allied targets. While Iran did attack American positions in Iraq, leaving dozens of troops with concussions and traumatic brain injuries with ballistic missile strikes, there has been no other major retaliation.
U.S. troop presence in the Middle East increased from 80,000 to 90,000 after the Soleimani strike. President Trump has repeatedly promised to withdraw U.S. troops from the region, and the Pentagon will soon be taking troops out of Afghanistan in line with an agreement reached with the Taliban.
Iran is currently coping with one of the largest outbreaks of Wuhan coronavirus outside of China, which has led some in the Pentagon to conclude the country will not seek major action against the U.S. in the near future. There were 7,161 confirmed cases of Wuhan coronavirus in Iran as of Tuesday morning, with 237 deaths. However, at least 10 percent of Iranian parliament members have been infected with the illness and some lawmakers have accused the government of concealing “horrific numbers” of deaths.