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US to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq this month

Obama says that the US “commitment to Iraq is changing” as 90,000 troops get ready to go home.

US PRESIDENT Barack Obama has said that 90,000 combat troops will be withdrawn from Iraq this month, on schedule.

The winding down of the war in Iraq is a personal goal for Obama, as he vowed to begin withdrawing troops from the region upon entering office.

Some 50,000 American troops will remain in the country to continue to train Iraqi security forces and conduct anti-terrorism operations.

The Huffington Post reports that Obama had originally promised to withdraw up to two brigades a month after entering office, with a view to fully withdrawing within 16 months. This was later extended to 19 months.

US forces will withdraw entirely within the next year, as originally planned by previous president George W Bush.

Speaking to the Disabled American Veterans convention in Atlanta, Obama said: “As a candidate for president, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end. Shortly after taking office, I announced our new strategy for Iraq and for a transition to full Iraqi responsibility. I made it clear that by August 31, America’s combat mission in Iraq would end. And that is exactly what we are doing – as promised and on schedule.”

Despite the reduction in combatants in Iraq, there are still great challenges to be overcome before the country is stablised. It has been more than seven years since American forces invaded – yet efforts to form a new Iraqi government have failed at every turn.

Fundamental cultural and political differences have made it hard for Sunni, Shia and Kurdish leaders to agree on a candidate for Iraq’s prime minister, which is necessary in order to continue with the formation of a new Iraqi government.

The delay is beginning to fray nerves, as a similar delay following the 2005 elections led to a significant surge in terrorist activity in the country.

Meanwhile, as troops begin to withdraw from Iraq even more are being deployed to Afghanistan; a total of 30,000 additional troops have been marked for that war since Obama took office.

Obama adressed the issue of the Afghan war during his speech, insisting that it was on the right track:

“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.”

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