Obama to set Aug. 2010 date to end combat operations in Iraq

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Washington, Feb 27 (ANI): President Barck Obama is all set to end combat operations in Iraq by August 31, 2010, when the US military presence in Iraq would be not less than 35,000 and not more than 50,000.

Obama told top leaders in Congress on Thursday that he will end combat operations in Iraq on August 31, 2010, putting a halt to all US-led counterinsurgency efforts and transitioning the mission in Iraq to training, advising and engaging in limited counter-terrorist operations, FOX News quoted congressional sources, as saying.

Obama is expected to deliver a speech on Friday at the Marine base in Camp Lejeune, N.C, in which he will order an immediate draw down of the 142,000 Marines and Army personnel in Iraq.

The president met at the White House with top Democratic and Republican congressional leaders, as well as the leaders of the National Security and Foreign Policy committees to explain his decision.

Obama told lawmakers that troops remaining in Iraq after August 31, 2010, will carry out new missions and will be trained and organized in a way that de-emphasizes combat-readiness and intensifies the focus on these three missions:

Train, equip and advise Iraqi security forces. Support civilian operations in Iraq aimed at reconstruction, redevelopment and political reconciliation and conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions.

The president told lawmakers the plan, which ends combat operations 19 months after he was sworn in as president, represented the consensus advice he received from Defense Secretary Robert Gates; the Joints Chiefs of Staff; Army General Ray Ordierno, the top military commander in Iraq, and General David Petaeus, head of U.S. Central Command.

The meeting comes after leaders of both parties raised concerns about Obama's intention to leave up to 50,000 troops in Iraq after combat operations cease. (ANI)

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