U.S. President Barack Obama
says he will withdraw all American combat troops from Iraq by the end of August
Mr. Obama made the announcement Friday to Marines at Camp Lejeune, a U.S. military base in the southeastern state of North Carolina.
The president says up to 50,000 troops could stay in Iraq for limited missions in training and combating terrorism, but that he intends to remove all troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.
Mr. Obama said that Iraq is not yet secure and that difficult days lie ahead, but he said the United States must refocus on other priorities, such as Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The withdrawal timeframe is slightly longer than Mr. Obama promised while campaigning for the presidency. Officials say it will allow the U.S. to maintain a strong presence in Iraq through a series of regional elections there, and national elections set for the end of the year.
Under a U.S.-Iraq security deal reached last year, all U.S. combat forces must leave Iraq by the end of 2011. Around 142,000 U.S. troops are serving in Iraq.