WASHINGTON - The Pentagon on Monday announced a scheduled deployment of 33,000 troops to Iraq early next year as regular rotations.
The troops include four army brigades and two Marine regiments, the Pentagon said in a statement.
There are some 146,000 US troops in Iraq right now and the number will drop to 142,000 by mid-July under the partial withdrawal plan announced by President George W. Bush early this year.
Gen. David Petraeus, who oversees all US forces in the Middle East, said in May that he may recommend further troop reduction in September but it is condition-based.
Most analysts said Bush is likely to maintain a large troop presence in Iraq through January 2009, the end of his tenure.
But there are growing calls from within and outside the military to shift focus to Afghanistan, and Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, promised to start withdrawal immediately after he assumes the office of president ifhe wins this year's general election.