US combat mission in Iraq to end on Aug 31: Obama

The US will end its combat mission in Iraq as scheduled on August 31.

Washington: The United States will end its
combat mission in Iraq as scheduled on August 31 despite the
recent flare-up in violence, President Barack Obama said in a
speech prepared for delivery on Monday.

"Shortly after taking office, I announced our new
strategy for Iraq and for a transition to full Iraqi
responsibility," Obama will tell a national convention of
Disabled American Veterans in Atlanta, Georgia, according to
excerpts of his speech released by the White House.

"And I made it clear that by August 31, 2010 America`s
combat mission in Iraq would end," the president continued.
"And that is exactly what we are doing, as promised, on

As president, Obama inherited a security agreement with
Baghdad that calls for all US forces to pull out by the end of
2011. He has ordered the force to draw down to 50,000 by
September 1.

There are about 65,000 US soldiers currently stationed in

The pullout confirmation comes amid an increase of
violence in Iraq, with the Baghdad government releasing
figures Saturday that said 535 people died in July, including
396 civilians, 89 policemen and 50 soldiers.

That figure was the highest for a single month since May
2008 when 563 people were killed in violence.

But Major General Stephen Lanza, a spokesman for US
forces in Iraq, said the Iraqi government figures did not
"reflect the security situation" while data provided to media
by unofficial sources were "grossly overstated."

Obama said that even as militants try to derail the
country`s progress, "violence in Iraq continues to be near the
lowest it`s been in years."

He pointed out that in coming months, the United States
will maintain a transitional force in Iraq and remove all of
its troops from the country by the end of 2011.

According to the president, US forces will focus during
this transitional period on supporting and training Iraqi
forces, counter-terrorism missions and protecting US civilian
and military initiatives.

"But 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," the president stressed.

"And as we mark the end of America`s combat mission in
Iraq, a grateful America must pay tribute to all who served

August 31 will also mark the end of Operation Iraqi
Freedom launched by former president Geroge W. Bush with the
March 2003 invasion of Iraq, according to White House


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