Iraq Troop Withdrawal: Obama Marks Milestone Amid Today's Violence

"What he says concerns me: That there is still a continuing problem. One might speculate that insurgents are waiting as soon as they get an opportunity to launch more attacks," Cheney said in an interview with The Washington Times' "America's Morning News" radio show. "I hope the Iraqis can deal with it. At some point they have to stand on their own, but I would not want to see the U.S. waste all the tremendous sacrifice that has gotten us to this point."

The withdrawal and security agreement was negotiated in the last months of the Bush administration, and upon assuming office, President Obama approved a troop withdrawal schedule that will lead to the end of the combat mission by Aug. 31, 2010.

At that point a remaining force of 35,000 to 50,000 American forces in Iraq will continue to serve on as military trainers and advisers until the final pullout date by the end of 2011.

Iraqis Mark U.S. Pullout With Holiday

Fireworks lit up the night sky over Baghdad Monday night in celebration as a countdown clock broadcast on Iraqi TV ticked to zero at midnight. Iraqis are planning a parade and other festivities today in Baghdad's Green Zone district, which to many locals has become the symbol of foreign military presence since the 2001 U.S. invasion.

The date has long been anticipated by Iraqis, and Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki declared Tuesday a public holiday: National Sovereignty Day.

"I congratulate the Iraqi people on this day, June 30, when the U.S. forces have withdrawn from Iraq cities in accordance to the forces withdrawal agreement," al-Maliki said in a televised speech. "We consider this day as a national holiday and it is a joint achievement by all Iraqis."

Prominent Shiite lawmaker and parliament member Abbas Al Bayati told Al Iraqia television that "The day of June 30th is the day of unity among the political blocs for standing behind the national unity government."

Under the Status of Forces Agreement, Iraqi forces were to assume formal control of security in Baghdad and Iraq's major cities as U.S. combat troops withdrew to areas outside the cities by June 30.

More than 130,000 U.S. soldiers -- just slightly less than the 145,000 at the time of the invasion -- still remain in Baghdad. U.S. troops will still have a presence in the cities from where they are withdrawing, but they will serve as embedded trainers with Iraqi army and police units. Additional forces will continue to provide logistical assistance to Iraq's troops in the cities.

Camp Victory Will Remain Open in Western Baghdad

The bulk of U.S. troops will continue to operate in Iraq's rural areas and the belts surrounding urban areas in joint patrols with Iraqi security forces, much as they have since the security framework was put in place early this year.

Quick Reaction Forces will also be ready at U.S. bases outside the cities to assist forces that might need help, but they will enter the cities only if invited by Iraqi authorities.

In preparation for the withdrawal from the cities, the United States has closed or turned over to Iraqi authorities nearly 150 U.S. camps or facilities since the start of this year.

The remaining 310 U.S. facilities will be reduced in number over the next two years as the United States continues on the path of pulling all of its forces out of the country by Dec. 31, 2011, as required by the security agreement.

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