US Troops Withdraw From Iraq
U.S. troops have withdrew in Iraq Tuesday morning, six years after leading a controversial coalition to invade the Arab nation.
Iraqi troops assumed formal control over the nation's capital as U.S. troops relinquished security in urban areas.
US troops began withdrawing from the country's major cities and towns as the midnight deadline passed on Tuesday for combat troops to hand over security to Iraqi forces.
"The withdrawal of American troops is completed now from all cities, after everything they sacrificed for the sake of security," Sadiq Al-Rikabi, a senior adviser to Nuri al-Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, said.
Al-Rikabi told the Associated Press news agency on Tuesday that Iraq is "now celebrating the restoration of sovereignty".
Al-Maliki described the withdrawal as a "turning point" for the country and declared June 30 the country's National Sovereignty Day and a public holiday.
A countdown clock broadcast on Iraqi TV ticked to zero as the midnight deadline passed for U.S. combat troops to finish their pullback to bases outside cities.
Fireworks exploded over Baghdad's skies as thousands paraded in the streets, celebrating the return of sovereignty after six years of military operations in urban areas throughout the country.
Fireworks, not bombings, colored the Baghdad skyline late Monday, and thousands attended a party in a park where singers performed patriotic songs. Loudspeakers at police stations and military checkpoints played recordings of similar tunes throughout the day, as Iraqi military vehicles decorated with flowers and national flags patrolled the capital.
Yet, there's been an increase in violence across the country. Police and army leave has been canceled in anticipation of fresh waves of violence.
"Our expectation is that maybe some criminals will try to continue their attacks," said Major General Abdul Karim Khalaf, the interior ministry's operations director and spokesman.
Most Recommended Comment
Redwater, Alberta, Canada