US and British Forces in Iraq are Reduced
The New York Times reported that under President Obama's plan to pull combat operations by 2010, United States military announced Sunday that the two combat brigades scheduled to return to Iraq this year will instead not be replaced. The last 4,000 British troops are also scheduled to leave Iraq by September.
“The time and conditions are right for Coalition forces to reduce the number of troops in Iraq," General Ray Odierno, the commander in Iraq, said in a statement.
American forces are being reduced by 12,000 from the 142,000, and the 14 brigades will go down to 12. The United States will also hand off 74 facilities and areas under its control to the Iraqis by the end of March, The Associated Press reported.
The status of forces agreement, a negotiation between George W. Bush and Obama, marks the requirement of reducing troops now and removing all by 2011. CNN additionally reported that the agreement was established by both the Bush administration and Iraqi government and requires troops to leave by June 30 this year.
A "transitional force" of 35,000 to 50,000 troops will remain in the country to assist Iraqi security forces, protect Americans and fight terrorism, Obama said (CNN).
The New York Times reported that at least one suicide bomber blew himself up Sunday morning before the announcement and near the police academy in Baghdad, killing 28 people and injuring 57, Iraq's Interior Ministry said.