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Petraeus Says US Combat Troops Could Exit Baghdad by July


The top U.S. commander in Iraq says American combat troops could be withdrawn from Baghdad by next July if security gains hold.

In an interview with The Financial Times newspaper published Thursday, General David Petraeus says such a pullout is possible, in his words, "conditions permitting." The U.S. military now has about 16,000 combat troops in Baghdad.

Petraeus says Iraq is a "dramatically changed country" from when he took command in February 2007. He says daily attacks in Baghdad have declined recently to less than five a day, in a city of seven million people.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military says two American soldiers were killed Thursday after an explosive device detonated in eastern Baghdad. No other details have been released.

Also, the U.S. military arrested an Iraqi cameraman and three of his family members today during a raid on their home in Baghdad.

A military spokesman says the reporter - identified as 28-year-old Omar Husham - and his family members are suspected of belonging to a terrorist bombing network.

The arrests come after Tuesday's detention of a Reuters photographer also assessed as a possible security threat.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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