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Rumsfeld Announces Combat Troop Reductions in Iraq


Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld announced Friday that U.S. troops in Iraq would decrease by some seven thousand soldiers this spring. Rumsfeld made the announcement while on a two day trip to Iraq, where he met top US Military and Embassy officials.

During a speech at an American base in Falluja Secretary Rumsfeld said President Bush has ordered to reduce the level of U.S. combat troops in Iraq.

"The adjustments that have been announced today will modestly reduce the force level somewhat below the previous base line of 138,000. Because the conditions here in Iraq have evolved favorably we've made a decision to reduce our brigades from 17 to 15," he said.

US Military officials in Iraq said the decision was based on the cumulative impact and increased capability of Iraqi security forces across their areas of responsibility.

They said the performance of the Iraqi Security Forces during the country's recent elections and October's referendum demonstrated that the American Force reduction was possible.

The Bush Administration has come under increasing domestic pressure in the past six weeks to demonstrate success in Iraq.

Meanwhile, three U.S. oldiers were killed in Baghdad over the past two days in two separate roadside bomb attacks.

On Friday the insurgents also ambushed an Iraqi checkpoint, about 70 kilometers north of Baghdad, killing eight Iraqi soldiers and wounding 17. And at least four other people were killed by a suicide bomber at a Shi'ite mosque in Balad Ruz.

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