US troop withdrawal in Iraq proceeding as planned: Obama

Last Updated: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 18:22

Washington: The planned drawdown of American
troops from Iraq is proceeding as promised as the war there
"is nearing an end," President Barack Obama has said, even as
he vowed to foil al-Qaeda`s attempt to regroup in Afghanistan.

Signalling an end of America`s combat mission in Iraq by
the end of August, Obama said his administration`s plans to
reduce the number of US troops in Iraq to 50,000 by the end of
this month are on schedule.
The war in Iraq "is nearing an end," he said. "As a
candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to
a responsible end. And that is exactly what we are doing,"
Obama told the national convention of Disabled American
Veterans yesterday in Atlanta.

"I made it clear that by August 31, 2010 America`s
combat mission in Iraq would end. That is exactly what we are
doing?as promised, on schedule," he said, adding that the US
has closed or turned over to Iraq hundreds of bases.

"We`re moving out millions of pieces of equipment in one
of the largest logistics operations that we`ve seen in
decades," the President said.

A full withdrawal of American troops from Iraq is
scheduled to take place by the end of next year.

On Iraq, Obama painted a largely optimistic assessment
of the US effort, saying violence there is currently "near the
lowest (level than) it`s been in years."

At the same time, Obama warned that there is still
danger in that country for American troops on the ground.

"The hard truth is we have not seen the end of American
sacrifice in Iraq," Obama said. "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."

In July, there were 81,000 US troops in Iraq and
87,000 in Afghanistan.
Obama, also the Commander-in-Chief of US forces,
defended his decision to increase American military commitment
in Afghanistan.

He said the military has now gone on the offensive
against extremist elements, and took issue with critics who
claim the US end game in Afghanistan remains poorly defined.

"We face huge challenges in Afghanistan," he said. "But
it`s important that the American people know that we are
making progress and we`re focused on goals that are clear and
achievable."

"If Afghanistan were to be engulfed by an even wider
insurgency, al-Qaeda and its terrorist affiliates would have
even more space to plan their next attack," he said. "As
President of the United States, I refuse to let that happen."

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, August 3, 2010 - 18:22

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