Thread: News Stories
View Single Post
Old 2009-06-29, 23:04   Link #3135
Feeling comfy
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Singapore
Age: 43
US soldiers leaving Iraq's cities
Bagdhad (June 30): American troops are withdrawing from towns and cities in Iraq, six years after the invasion, having formally handed over security duties to new Iraqi forces. A public holiday — National Sovereignty Day — has been declared, and the capital, Baghdad, threw a giant party to mark the eve of the changeover.

United States-led combat operations are due to end by September next year, with all troops gone from Iraq by the end of 2011. Iraqi troops are on the alert for insurgent attacks during the handover.

Despite the pullback from cities and towns, due to be completed today, US troops will still be embedded with Iraqi forces. Some 131,000 US troops remain in Iraq, including 12 combat brigades, and the total is not expected to drop below 128,000 until after the Iraqi national election next January.

The US Ambassador to Iraq, Mr Christopher Hill, said there would be no major reduction in forces until next year but the pullback was a "milestone".

"Yes, we think Iraq is ready and Iraq thinks Iraq is ready," he said. "We have spent a lot of time working very closely with Iraqi security services...and I think there is an understanding that now it is the time."

The pullback comes two years after the US "surge" of extra troops between February and June 2007, which took US troop levels in Iraq to 168,000. There was a decline in violence, but recent months have seen an upsurge.

In the past 10 days nearly 170 people have been killed and many more injured in three attacks in Baghdad and Kirkuk.

TinyRedLeaf is offline