A new sign that the war in Iraq is winding down: Pentagon officials say two aircraft carrier battle groups are leaving the Gulf region.

Defense officials said the aircraft carriers Kitty Hawk and Constellation will leave the Arabian Sea later this week, together with the other ships in their battle groups.

That will leave just one carrier in the Gulf, the Nimitz, plus two others in the eastern Mediterranean - the Truman and the Roosevelt.

The withdrawals reflect a scaling down of American air operations over Iraq. But ground troops are still moving into Iraq to help secure the country while working to hunt down fugitive Iraqi leaders, death squads, and weapons of mass destruction.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is confirming Special Operations forces and other coalition ground elements have secured the oil fields in northern Iraq, bringing all oil fields and facilities under Coalition control.