“After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over,” Mr. Obama declared in the White House briefing room today. “Over the next two months, our troops in Iraq, tens of thousands of them, will pack up their gear and board convoys for the journey home.”
Mr. Obama said the United States will be “moving forward from a position of strength” and that the troop departure “will be a time to reflect on all that we’ve been through in this war.”
“I’ll join the American people in paying tribute to the more than one million Americans who are served in Iraq,” he said. “We’ll honor our many wounded warriors and the nearly 4500 American patriots and their Iraqi and coalition partners who gave their lives to this effort.”
“The last American soldiers will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high, proud of their success, and knowing that the American people stand united in their support for our troops,” the president said. “That is how America’s military efforts in Iraq will end.”
Washington had been in discussions with Iraqi leaders regarding maintaining a force of two to five thousand U.S. troops past 2011, to carry on training Iraqi security forces. During those discussions, Iraqi leaders refused to give those soldiers immunity from prosecution in Iraqi courts, and the U.S. refused to stay without that guarantee.
The withdrawal of U.S. forces marks a major milestone in the war that started in 2003 and resulted in the removal of Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq.