US Says Troop Drawdown in Iraq at 56,000
Thursday, 19 August 2010

senior Obama administration official said on Wednesday the US troop strength in Iraq was now 56,000, not 50,000, as he had told Reuters earlier.

"I had incorrect information," the official said.

The Obama administration has said it expects to draw down troop levels to 50,000 by August 31, with those who remain continuing to train Iraqi armed forces and police units.

Meeting the August 31 deadline means President Barack Obama is on target to keep his assurances to Americans that all US forces will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011, even as he struggles with a difficult conflict in Afghanistan.

Obama's Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, launched the US-led invasion in 2003 that ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. But the war became exceptionally unpopular among Americans as US deaths mounted amid growing sectarian violence.

As of Wednesday, the Defense Department said there were 4,419 US military deaths since the invasion.

NBC News reported that the last US combat troops had left Iraq. An NBC reporter traveling with the 4th Stryker Brigade drove through the night and arrived in Kuwait just before 4 a.m. local time, with TV footage showing the convoy rolling through the border gates and the gate shutting as the last vehicle passed through.


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