News / USA

    US Troops Leave Iraq, Ending Almost 9 Years of War

    A US Army soldier smiles after crossing into Kuwait as the last convoy pulls out of Iraq, December 18, 2011.
    A US Army soldier smiles after crossing into Kuwait as the last convoy pulls out of Iraq, December 18, 2011.

    The last convoy of U.S. soldiers has left Iraq, ending an almost nine-year long U.S.-led war that ousted Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and left Iraqis with a fragile democracy still facing insurgents and sectarian divisions.

    The final convoy of 100 U.S. military vehicles carrying about 500 troops crossed into Kuwait Sunday morning at 7:38 a.m. local time, (0438 UTC), leaving behind only several hundred U.S. security personnel at the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The withdrawal ended a war that cost the lives of almost 4,500 U.S. troops, tens of thousands of Iraqis, and hundreds of billions of dollars of U.S. government funds.

    The last U.S. military convoy departed from a base in the southern Iraqi town of Nasiriyah under cover of darkness and secrecy to prevent any final attacks as it drove across a desert highway toward the border. The American soldiers cheered as they entered Kuwait and said they look forward to reuniting with their families.

    The quiet withdrawal was a sharp contrast to the start of the war in March 2003, when U.S.-led forces launched airstrikes over Baghdad as part of what they called a "shock and awe" campaign against Saddam. U.S. and allied ground forces then stormed from Kuwait into Iraq, toppling the minority Sunni dictator of a Shi'ite majority nation within weeks and capturing him by the end of the year.

    But, Saddam's fall sparked a Sunni insurgency that evolved into a brutal sectarian conflict between Iraq's Shi'ite and Sunni communities, with violence peaking in 2006. The scale of sectarian and insurgent attacks declined significantly after 2007, when the United States sent a surge of troops to Iraq and Sunni tribal militias sided with U.S. forces against Sunni al-Qaida militants.

    At the height of the war, more than 170,000 U.S. troops were stationed in Iraq at more than 500 bases. The United States promised to withdraw them by the end of 2011 under a 2008 U.S.-Iraqi agreement signed by the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush and implemented by his successor and current President Barack Obama.

    Iraqis have expressed mixed feelings about the U.S. pullout. Many have celebrated the end of what they called an American occupation and a regaining of Iraq's sovereignty, while others have expressed gratitude for U.S. help in ousting Saddam and introducing democracy.

    Many Iraqis also complain that their elected government has not done enough to rebuild the country's war-ravaged infrastructure. Another common concern is that the Iraqi government's delicate power-sharing arrangements may unravel in the absence of U.S. troops and reignite a sectarian conflict.

    In a television interview recorded Thursday with U.S. network ABC News, President Obama said the U.S. troop presence in Iraq "succeeded" in giving Iraqis a chance to build a successful future.  Obama opposed the war when he ran for office and vowed to end it. Opinion polls have showed a majority of Americans believe the war went on too long.

    Photo Gallery: US Forces Leave Iraq

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

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.