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Panetta: Iraq mission "has become real"

7 years ago2 views

reuters

Reuters

ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION
STORY: U.S. forces formally ended their nine-year war in Iraq on Thursday with a low key flag ceremony in Baghdad, while to the north flickering violence highlighted ethnic and sectarian strains threatening the country in years ahead.
"After a lot of blood spilled by Iraqis and Americans, the mission of an Iraq that could govern and secure itself has become real," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at the ceremony at Baghdad's still heavily-fortified airport.
Almost 4,500 U.S. soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis lost their lives in the war that began with a "Shock and Awe" campaign of missiles pounding Baghdad and descended into sectarian strife and a surge in U.S. troop numbers.
"Iraq will be tested in the days ahead, by terrorism, by those who would seek to divide, by economic and social issues," Panetta told the rows of assembled U.S. soldiers and embassy officials at the ceremony. "Challenges remain, but the United State s will be there to stand by the Iraqi people."
U.S. soldiers lowered the flag of American forces in Iraq and slipped it into a camouflage-colored sleeve in a brief outdoor ceremony, symbolically ending the most unpopular U.S. military venture since the Vietnam War of the 1960s and 70s.
The remaining 4,000 American troops will leave by the end of the year.

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