The US military said on Tuesday it will shortly withdraw 3,500 soldiers who were deployed in Iraq as part of the controversial "surge" in February last year.
Soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Division will return to their base in Fort Benning in Georgia "in the next several weeks," the military said in a statement.
The move is in line with a US plan to complete a withdrawal of the 30,000 "surge" troops deployed to curb an increase in sectarian violence in Iraq.
"The continued draw down of surge brigades demonstrates continued progress in Iraq," US commander Brigadier General Dan Allyn said in the statement.
"After July, commanders will assess our security posture for about 45 days and determine future force requirements."
Washington has said it wants to complete a withdrawal of the 30,000 troops by July and have a 45-day evaluation period before considering the overall level of US troops.
US military officials said the number of American troops currently deployed in Iraq was 156,000 while another 10,000 troops from other coalition member states were also on the ground.
Allyn said the US policy of working with former Iraqi militia while training more Iraqi security force personnel had paid off and helped reduce the level of violence.
However, at least 166 US troops have been killed this year while a total of 4,071 troops have died since the invasion in March 2003, according to the independent icasualties.org website and an AFP count. (AFP)