President Barack Obama speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Friday, Oct. 21, 2011. (Photo: …President Barack Obama has announced that all but 150 of the 39,000 U.S. troops still in Iraq will come home by December 31, reuniting military families across the United States.
"Today I can report that, as promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year," Obama said in a news conference. "After nearly nine years, America's war in Iraq will be over."
"The coming months will be a season of homecomings. Our troops in Iraq will definitely be home for the holidays," the President added.
More than one million U.S. service men and women have served in Iraq since the war there began in 2003, and more than 4,500 of them have died.
The U.S. combat mission there officially ended in August 2010, but thousands of soldiers were expected to stay in order to help with training and security issues. After the Iraqis refused to provide legal immunity for U.S. troops who remained in Iraq after Dec. 31, the decision was made to bring nearly everyone home. The remaining 150 service members will stay in Iraq to assist in arms sales, a U.S. official told CNN.According to a report at Politico.com, Obama said that Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki was adamant about "the determination of the Iraqi people to forge their own future."
Once U.S. troops have been withdrawn, Obama said, the U.S. and Iraq will have "a normal relationship between sovereign nations, an equal partnership based on mutual interest and mutual respect," and any U.S. military involvement in Iraq would be only to "offering training and support... just as we offer training and assistance to countries around the world."
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