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2011 World News: Iraq

U.S. to Withdraw Completely from Iraq

by Beth Rowen

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U.S. Troops in Iraq

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On December 15, 2011, the U.S.-led war in Iraq officially ended. The war, launched in March 2003 based on faulty evidence of weapons of mass destruction and a dubious connection to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, lasted nearly nine years, killed more than 4,440 U.S. troops, and cost about $1 trillion.

As the U.S. was making plans to withdraw troops from Iraq in late summer and fall, the ongoing insurgent activity in the country cast doubt on the long-term security of the region. This uncertainty was highlighted on Aug. 15, 2011, when insurgents launched more than 40 coordinated attacks throughout the country, mostly on civilians. A total of 89 people died and more than 300 were wounded in the violence, which came in the form of suicide attacks, car bombs, and gunfire. Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia took credit for the attacks, saying they were retribution for the killing of Osama bin Laden. The lethality of the incursions made it clear that Iraq is far from secure and remains a hotbed of terrorist activity.

Obama Changes Plan for Drawdown of Troops

In outlining his plan to withdraw troops from Iraq, President Obama had planned to keep about 5,000 troops in the country as advisers and trainers, but he reversed the decision in late October when Iraq said the remaining troops would not be given immunity from Iraqi law. About 150 members of the Defense Department staff will remain in Iraq to maintain the security of the U.S. Embassy and the oversee the sale of military equipment to Iraq. In addition, the CIA will maintain a presence in the country.

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