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Officials: Obama Favors Iraq Withdrawal in 19 Months


U.S. officials say President Barack Obama is expected to order all U.S. combat troops out of Iraq by August of 2010.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told news agencies Tuesday that Mr. Obama could announce a 19-month withdrawal plan as early as this week.

Around 142,000 U.S. troops are serving in Iraq. The withdrawal plan calls for thousands of troops to remain in the country to train Iraqi forces and protect U.S. personnel.

Under a U.S.-Iraq security deal reached last year, all U.S. forces must be out of Iraq by the end of 2011.

Mr. Obama campaigned on a pledge to pull out troops within 16 months, but he also said he would weigh input from defense officials. The 19-month option is considered a compromise, since some top military officials have called for a 23-month pullout, citing concerns about a resurgence in violence.

On Tuesday, Marine Major General John Kelly told reporters violence has dropped significantly in Iraq.

Kelly said there are still parts of Iraq where security remains an issue, but that Iraqi forces are able to manage the violence on their own.

The U.S. military says an American soldier and an interpreter were killed Tuesday when gunmen attacked a police station in northern Iraq.

Iraqi security sources say two people dressed in Iraqi police uniforms opened fire Tuesday in the city of Mosul in Nineveh province and then fled the scene.

Three other U.S. soldiers and a second Iraqi interpreter were wounded.

An Iraqi interior ministry official, General Hussein Ali Kamal, condemned the violence, calling it an isolated, criminal incident that does not represent the Iraqi government.

Mosul is considered the last major stronghold for Sunni extremists.

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

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