Iraq: 4 U.S. troops die on eve of withdrawal
The U.S. Military said four troops were killed in “combat related injuries” the day before American troops will withdraw completely from Iraqi city centers, including Baghdad. Those killed were part of the Multi-National Division-Baghdad. The United States did not provide any other information pending notification of their families.
Iraqi security forces will assume control of urban areas today, as part of the U.S. -Iraqi security pact that will have all American troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011. The Iraqi government declared June 30 “National Sovereignty Day”, and marked the day with overnight fireworks. A military parade in the heavily fortified “Green Zone” of Baghdad will take place today as well.
President Jalal Talabani said the national holiday could not have happened without help from the United States. He said, “we express our thanks and gratitude to our friends in the coalition forces who faced risks and responsibilities and sustained casualties and damage while helping Iraq to get rid from the ugliest dictatorship and during the joint effort to impose security and stability.”
U.S. troops will remain in rural areas and near the border, but will only continue combat operations with the Iraqi government’s permission. There will still be 130,000 U.S. troops in the country. Violence has increased over the past week, raising concerns about whether Iraq’s security forces will be able to handle the U.S. withdrawal.