The top U.S. general in Iraq is expected to recommend removing American troops from several areas in Iraq where commanders believe security has improved, according to a report on Wednesday in the Los Angeles Times.
According to officials, Gen. David Petraeus is expected to propose the partial pullback in his September status report to Congress. Administration officials hope the general’s recommendations will persuade Congress to reject pressure for a major U.S. pullout from Iraq.
The recommendation would allow U.S. commanders in the field to turn over security functions to Iraqi units, and redeploy them to other hot spots or as reserve forces, according to the report.
"That is the form of the recommendation we are anticipating him to come back with," a senior administration official said, the paper reported. But referring to the redeployment options, the official added, "I just don't know which of those categories he is going to be in."
Petraeus has not told the White House where he might recommend reductions. But military commanders have indicated in recent briefings that Nineveh province in northern Iraq and its capital, Mosul, like Anbar in the west, could be an area from which it might be suitable for the U.S. to withdraw.
Speaking with FOX News, a senior U.S. military official in Baghdad said Petraeus is expected to present his findings to Congress on Sept. 11 or 12 — they must do so before Sept. 15, a Saturday. Also pushing the schedule closer to the beginning of the week are the Jewish and Muslim religious holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan.
The official indicated that more troops would not be moving out of Anbar province, a hotbed of insurgent activity.
"He (Petraeus) has already said that they have pulled a battalion out of Al-Anbar, I believe to go to another part of Iraq, so not real news there, it just wasn't noticed. I don't think anyone is talking pulling out of Al-Anbar completely, at least not right now," the official said.
FOX News' Jennifer Griffin contributed to this report.