Obama sees difficulty in Iraq after pull-out

By Aamer Madhani and Nadeem Majeed – USA Today
Posted : Wednesday Jul 1, 2009 18:47:29 EDT

BAGHDAD — As Iraq celebrated Tuesday’s deadline for U.S. troops to depart from the nation’s cities, a car bomb killed at least 33 people in the city of Kirkuk, spotlighting the fragile security as Iraqi forces take control.  Just hours before the formal changeover, four U.S. soldiers were killed, the U.S. military said Tuesday. It was the deadliest attack against U.S. troops in Iraq since April 10, when five soldiers died after a suicide bomber detonated a truck loaded with explosives in Mosul.  Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who had warned that insurgents would mount attacks around Tuesday’s deadline, said in a nationally televised address: “Those who think that Iraqis are not able to protect their country and that the withdrawal of foreign forces will create a security vacuum are committing a big mistake.”  In Washington, President Barack Obama noted the milestone of transferring control of the cities to Iraqi forces. “The Iraqi people are rightly treating this day as a cause for celebration,” Obama said.  “Make no mistake: There will be difficult days ahead,” he said. “There’s more work to be done, but we’ve made important progress in supporting a sovereign, stable Iraq.”  The Iraqi government marked what it called National Sovereignty Day with a military parade inside Baghdad’s heavily fortified Green Zone and placed flowers at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier monument to honor Iraqi troops killed since the start of the 6-year-old war.  The withdrawal of U.S. combat troops to posts outside of Iraq’s cities, villages and towns is part of a U.S.-Iraqi security pact and the first major step toward withdrawing all U.S. forces by Dec. 31, 2011. Obama has said all combat troops will leave by the end of August 2010.  About 131,000 U.S. service members are in Iraq, and a small number will remain inside the cities for advisory and training roles. U.S. troops are now prohibited from conducting combat missions, such as raids, inside cities without permission of the Iraqi government.http://www.airforcetimes.com/news/2009/07/gns_obama_iraq_070109/

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