LOS ANGELES (CBS) — President Obama says all American forces in Iraq will be coming home by the end of the year.
The decision is in line with the withdrawal deadline former President Bush set in 2008, and will effectively end U.S. involvement in the war.
“After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over,” Obama said at the White House Friday. The president also said that most U.S. troops will be “home for the holidays.”
Washington had considered the possibility of leaving several thousand troops to continue training Iraqi security forces, but leaders in that country – still angry over civilian deaths and Abu Ghraib – refused to give U.S. troops immunity from prosecution. The U.S. government won’t keep troops there without that protection.
Nearly 41,000 American troops are currently in Iraq. Nearly all of them will be relocated or sent home.
Concerns remain, however, that U.S. withdrawal will undo gains against insurgents.
The White House says Iraq will now be an ally, and that the U.S. embassy in Baghdad will still have dozens of marines to protect it, as well as thousands of American security contractors who will train Iraqi forces to keep the peace.
More than 4,400 members of the U.S. military have lost their lives in the Iraq war since it began in March of 2003.
In response to President Obama’s announcement, the California National Guard released the following statement:
“More than 15,000 California National Guardsmen have deployed in
support of operations there, and 27 of our Soldiers have made the
ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives in combat. Just as we have
responded readily to our nation’s call, we shall follow our Commander
in Chief’s directives in the imminent withdraw, as well. Whether in
California or abroad, we stand ready to serve,” 1st Lt. Will Martin said respectfully.
If you or someone you know is currently serving in Iraq, please share a picture to be included in our photo gallery, “Coming Home.” Click here to upload photo.