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Bush Decides to Withdraw 8,000 Troops From Iraq By February


The White House says President George Bush has decided to withdraw about 8.000 U.S. troops from Iraq by next February and that he will announce the plan in a speech Tuesday in Washington.

A transcript of that speech was released on Monday.

In the prepared remarks, Mr. Bush says the U.S. military will bring home 3,400 combat support forces from Iraq in the next few months.

He also says a Marine battalion will leave Iraq's Anbar province by November and an army combat brigade will withdraw from Iraq in February.

Mr. Bush says a Marine battalion that was due to be sent to Iraq in November will instead go to Afghanistan and an army combat brigade will follow in January.

President Bush's announcements on troop levels are in line with recommendations he received from his top defense advisers last week.

U.S. officials have said the defense chiefs recommended waiting until early next year to withdraw the next combat brigade from Iraq. Mr. Bush leaves office in January.

The White House has said the president does not want to do anything that could reverse the security gains made in Iraq during the past year.

U.S. commanders have expressed hope that Iraq's sharp drop in violence will free up more U.S. forces to fight an escalating insurgency in Afghanistan.

The United States now has 15 combat brigades in Iraq and a total of 140,000 troops. The U.S. military contingent in Afghanistan numbers about 34,000.

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



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