US to withdraw over 4,000 troops from Iraq

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

General Ray Odierno, the senior US military commander in Iraq, has said that over four thousand troops serving in the country will be withdrawn from the country over the course of this month.

General Ray Odierno

The general announced the move on Wednesday, to a US congressional panel. After the withdrawal, due to be complete by the end of October, 120,000 troops will remain in Iraq.

"That's a bit faster than we originally planned. As we go forward, we will thin our lines across Iraq in order to reduce the risk and sustain stability through a deliberate transition of responsibilities to the Iraqi security forces," Odierno said.

The quickened withdrawal of forces was due to increased competence of Iraqi armed forces, Odierno noted, saying that "Iraqi security forces are now in the lead across the entire country."

However, Odierno said that he will maintain a substantial force until after the Iraqi election in January of next year, to ensure the transition to a new government does not become violent. However he added that the US will meet the target of having not more than 50,000 troops in Iraq by August 2010.