US Troops to Leave Iraq Before 2012

The United States is abandoning a plan to keep troops in Iraq past the year-end withdrawal deadline. Instead, US troops will be heading home within the next three months, officially ending 8-years of involvement in the Iraq war.

The Associated Press reports that US officials have been discussing whether to pull out troops by the December 31st withdrawal deadline, which was set in 2008, or to negotiate a new security agreement. The United States arrived in Iraq in March 2003. More than 4,400 American soldiers have lost their lives in Iraq.

USA Today reports that officials from the US and Iraq have also been discussing a training program for Iraq security forces. Thousands of troops could remain in Iraq to help the training process, but no final decision on the training program has been made yet.

The training program, which would involve about 4,000 troops, does not look good at the moment. A dispute over legal protections for the troops has jeopardized the program.

Pentagon press secretary George Little said

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“(The United States remains) “committed to keeping our agreement with the Iraqi government to remove all of our troops by the end of this year. At the same time we’re building a comprehensive partnership with Iraq under the Strategic Framework Agreement including a robust security relationship, and discussions with the Iraqis about the nature of that relationship are ongoing.”

The troop withdrawal does not include the 160 active-duty soldiers that are attached to the US Embassy in Baghdad.

The AFP notes that there are currently 41,000 troops remaining in Iraq.

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