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U.S. Troops Finally Withdraw From Iraqi Cities, Turn Security Over To Iraqis

So we'll see. It's quite a mess we've created over there, and this is only the first step on the long road back to anything approaching normal: BAG

So we'll see. It's quite a mess we've created over there, and this is only the first step on the long road back to anything approaching normal:

BAGHDAD, June 30 -- This is no longer America's war.

Iraqis danced in the streets and set off fireworks Monday in impromptu celebrations of a pivotal moment in their nation's troubled history: Six years and three months after the March 2003 invasion, the United States on Tuesday is withdrawing its remaining combat troops from Iraq's cities and turning over security to Iraqi police and soldiers.

While more than 130,000 U.S. troops remain in the country, patrols by heavily armed soldiers in hulking vehicles as of Wednesday will largely disappear from Baghdad, Mosul and Iraq's other urban centers.

"The Army of the U.S. is out of my country," said Ibrahim Algurabi, 34, a dual U.S.-Iraqi citizen now living in Arizona who attended a concert of celebration in Baghdad's Zawra Park. "People are ready for this change. There are a lot of opportunities to rebuild our country, to forget the past and think about the future."

On Monday, as the withdrawal deadline loomed, four U.S. troops were killed in the Iraqi capital, the military announced Tuesday. No details about the deaths were provided. Another soldier was killed Sunday in a separate attack.

Some American troops have expressed concern about becoming more exposed after the withdrawal, because Iraqis will have unprecedented authority over U.S. military operations. U.S. commanders have said they were bracing for an uptick of attacks from extremist groups during the transition period, which occur almost daily, and will rely heavily on Iraq's security forces for protection in the months ahead.

The withdrawal has also created enormous fear and uncertainty among many Iraqis, who believe that the U.S. military pullback will open the door for insurgents to increase their attacks. On Monday, some normally congested streets were virtually deserted after dark, as Iraqis appeared to heed warnings of impending attacks by insurgents. But city streets were also largely empty of Humvees and U.S. troops.

Those Iraqis who ventured out were in the mood to party, celebrating a moment that the Iraqi government has said represents its return to full sovereignty.

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