US ‘on target’ to end Iraq combat mission this month
The United States is on schedule to wrap up combat operations as planned on August 31 despite a recent flare-up in violence, the White House said on Wednesday.
“We’re on target by the end of the month to end our combat mission” in Iraq, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told a press briefing.
Earlier Iraq’s top army officer warned that a pullout of all US soldiers by the end of 2011 was premature, after eight of his troops were killed in a brazen attack that exposed shaky security here.
Lieutenant General Babakar Zebari’s remarks, which run counter to those of his political leaders, coincide with the exit of thousands of American soldiers under a US declaration to end combat operations in Iraq at the end of August.
There are currently 64,000 American soldiers in Iraq, a number that is set to drop to 50,000 by the end of the month.
All US troops must leave the country by the end of next year, according to the terms of a bilateral security pact, and President Barack Obama has insisted that the ongoing withdrawal is on schedule and will not be altered.