Obama says to keep promise on Iraq drawdown

08:27, August 03, 2010      

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U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday said he will keep the promise of ending combat mission in Iraq by Aug. 31, 2010, as his administration pulls tens of thousands of troops out of that country.

"I made it clear that by Aug. 31, 2010 America's combat mission in Iraq would end. And that is exactly what we are doing -- as promised, on schedule," said Obama.

In a speech to the national convention of the Disabled American Veterans in Atlanta, Georgia, Obama cited progress toward meeting the deadline of withdrawing U.S. combat troops from Iraq, stating that the United States has closed or turned over hundreds of bases to Iraq, moving out millions of pieces of equipment.

"By the end of this month, we'll have brought more than 90,000 of our troops home from Iraq since I took office," he said.

The U.S. forces last year pulled out of Iraqi cities and are working to formally end combat operations by the end of this month, cutting the U.S. military force from just under 90,000 to 50,000. A full withdrawal is also in sight at the end of 2011.

Obama said after combat mission ends in Iraq, U.S. military effort in that country will change to support. He said a transitional force will be maintained until all U.S. troops are pulled out of Iraq by the end of next year. The transitional force will focus on supporting and training Iraqi forces, partnering in counterterrorism, and protecting U.S. civilian and military efforts.

"Make no mistake, our commitment in Iraq is changing -- from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats," said the president.

As U.S. troops pull out of Iraq, violent attacks such as car bombings again spiked in Baghdad and elsewhere, as Iraqi government figures showed July as the deadliest month for Iraqis in more than two years. Meanwhile, Iraqi politics are at an impasse, with factions unable to form a government, months after the May 7 parliamentary polls, raising questions over political stability and security after U.S. troops' pullout.

Admitting that "terrorists try to derail Iraq's progress," Obama defended the preparedness of Iraqi forces and government, saying violence in Iraq is "near the lowest it's been in years."

Overall violence in Iraq has dropped sharply since the height of sectarian warfare in 2006-2007, but the latest polls and the imminent U.S. drawdown fueled a new wave of bloodshed.

Source: Xinhua


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