Wednesday, July 2, 2008

REUTERS: LAST U.S. "SURGE" BRIGADE BEGINS LEAVING IRAQ

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The U.S. military has begun withdrawing from Iraq the last of the five additional combat brigades that were deployed to the country in 2007, a U.S. military spokesman said on Tuesday.

Last U.S. "surge" brigade begins leaving Iraq
Tue Jul 1, 2008 8:46 AM ET
http://tinyurl.com/62ymdm

The final "surge" brigade would leave Iraq by the end of July, the spokesman said. That was in line with plans by General David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, who has said lower levels of violence would allow the reductions.
U.S. troop levels are a key issue in the November presidential election.
The U.S. military had 20 combat brigades in Iraq at its peak in 2007, with troop levels around 160,000-170,000. Numbers will fall to about 140,000 once the final "surge" brigade departs.
"Elements of the fifth surge brigade have already begun redeploying, so, by the end of July, we will be at 15 combat brigade teams in Iraq," the military spokesman said.
He declined to identify the brigade or give its location for security reasons.
U.S. President George W. Bush sent an extra 30,000 soldiers to Iraq last year to stop savage sectarian violence between majority Shi'ites and minority Sunni Arabs that threatened to tip the country into all-out civil war.
The troop buildup was credited with helping improve security. Other factors were a rebellion by Sunni Arab tribal leaders against al Qaeda and a ceasefire by anti-American Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr.

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