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War is over

October 21, 2011

US President Barack Obama has announced that American troops will leave Iraq by the end of the year. Over eight years after the US invasion and after more than 4,400 US deaths, he declared the war over.

Barack Obama
The announcement marks "a new phase in relations"Image: dapd

US forces in Iraq will be home by the end of the year, US President Barack Obama announced on Friday.

"Today I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year. After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over," he said at the White House.

He spoke after a video conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and said the two agreed on the way forward. The two countries would now move into "a new phase" and that it would be "a normal relationship between sovereign nations. An equal partnership based on mutual interests and mutual respect."

The withdrawal of American troops is a major step in the war that started in 2003 and saw Saddam Hussein removed from power in Iraq. There are 40,000 US troops still in Iraq. Since the invasion in 2003, 4,400 members of the US military were killed in the conflict.

No mention of disagreements

"The last American soldier will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in our support for our troops," he said. "That is how America's military efforts in Iraq will end."

US tanks in Iraq
US troops are preparing to leave IraqImage: picture-alliance/dpa

Obama made no mention of the months of wrangling with Iraqi leaders on how to proceed that preceded his announcement. Washington had been discussing the possibility of several thousand American troops staying in Iraq to continue training Iraqi security forces.

Throughout the discussions, Iraqi leaders refused to give US troops immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts, and the Americans have refused to stay without it. Iraq's leaders have displayed divisions over whether they wanted American forces to stay.

Obama announced the end of US combat operations in Iraq on August 31, 2010. US troops have been involved in training Iraqi forces since then.

On March 20, 2003, US-led forces started their incursion into Iraq. The Bush administration had accused Iraq of harboring weapons of mass destruction, a claim that was never substantiated. The United Nations legitmized the US-led occupation in October of that year.

Author: Nicole Goebel (Reuters, AP, AFP)
Editor: Mark Hallam

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