US combat troops out of Iraq
The last US combat brigade pulled out of Iraq and crossed into Kuwait almost seven and a half years after the US-led invasion to oust Saddam Hussein, US media reported. CNN reported that 56,000 soldiers will remain in Iraq after the brigade has left.
Only 50,000 are set to stay past August 31, when the United States declares an end to combat operations and switches to a training and advisory mission.
US State Department spokesman Philip Crowley, according to AFP, described the end of combat operations as a "historic moment." "The last thing that we want to see is an occasion where we have to send troops back into Iraq yet again so we are ending the combat phase of our involvement in Iraq for a second time," he said.
"We're not ending our involvement in Iraq. We will have important work to do. This is a transition. This is not the end of something. It's a transition to something different. We have a long-term commitment to Iraq."
Crowley said that after spending one trillion dollars in Iraq and with 4,400 lives lost, the conflict had come "at high expense."
"We've invested heavily in Iraq and have to do everything we can to preserve that investment to integrate Iraq along with the neighborhood into a much more peaceful situation that serves their interests as well as ours.
"But this is a historic moment."