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Iraqi troops prepare for US pull-out

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2009-06-27

With the June 30 withdrawal deadline for US combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns looming, Iraqi troops are getting set to shoulder major responsibility for security.

Six years after the US invasion of Iraq, the level of violence in the country has decreased considerably. But with the June 30 deadline for withdrawal of US combat troops from Iraqi cities and towns looming, a recent spate of attacks have proved that security is still a concern.

US President Barack Obama has pledged to end Iraq combat operations by August next year and to pull all troops out by the end of 2011.

In order to achieve this, Obama has stated that Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's government needs to bolster its security forces.

At the police academy in the Mansour district of Baghdad, the graduating class of Iraqi bomb disposal experts are about to receive their diplomas.

The graduates, who did not want their names used, are proud.

"We're happy that the foreign security forces are preparing to pull out. They've accomplished their mission. They've trained us and provided us with equipment,” says one bomb-disposal expert. “We're proud, because now we'll prove that we're up to the job. We're ready for what's ahead and we're proud to be Iraqi."


All quiet at Camp Istiqlal

At the Camp Istiqlal in Baghdad, the strict US military rules have been relaxed. The road leading to the camp is no longer under high alert.

US troops here will be acting as back-up to an Iraqi brigade, under the command of an Iraqi colonel.

"They're already capable of conducting independent operations, with little support from us,” says Lieutenant Colonel Costanza. “It's not our missions that they're supporting, it's their missions that we're supporting."

Costanza has spent most of the last six years in Iraq. He's seen the worst of the violence.

The initial mistrust has faded away

"When I first came, this gate was closed and stayed locked,” says Costanza, referring to the open camp gates. “If you wanted to come through you had to knock on the gate, and that's how we opened it. But for security we kept it closed. Now during the day we actually leave the gate open all the time.”

Date created : 2009-06-27