Gen. Odierno says US troops will return only if Iraq security force "completely fails"

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London, Aug 23 (ANI): General Ray Odierno has said that a "complete failure" of the Iraqi security forces would be the only situation where the US would resume combat operations there.

Gen Ray Odierno's comments have come after an American soldier was killed in a rocket attack in southern Iraq, marking the first American fatality since the last combat unit pulled out of the country.

"The Iraqi security forces have been doing so well for so long now that we really believe we're beyond that point," The Telegraph quoted Gen Odierno, as saying.

On Thursday, the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division began crossing the border from Iraq into Kuwait, becoming the last combat brigade to leave Iraq.

Its exodus, along with that of the approximately 2,000 remaining US combat forces destined to leave in the coming days, fulfils Obama's pledge to end combat operations in Iraq by August 31, the paper reported.

About 50,000 US troops is reported to remain in Iraq until the end of 2011 to serve as a training and assistance force, a dramatic drawdown from the peak of more than 170,000 during the surge of American forces in 2007.

According to General Odierno, the US involvement in Iraq beyond the end of 2011, probably would involve assisting the Iraqis secure their airspace and borders.

"My assessment is they will be ready. I think that they continue to grow. We continue to see development in planning and in their ability to conduct operations," the top American commander in Iraq, added. (ANI)

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