Obama To Reveal Iraq Pullout Plan

Source : http://news.bbc.co.uk

President Barack Obama is due to announce the withdrawal of most US troops in Iraq by August 2010.

In a speech later, he is expected to confirm that the US "combat mission" in Iraq will officially end by that time.

He is also expected to say that up to 50,000 of the 142,000 troops will stay in Iraq after that date to advise Iraqi forces and protect American interests.

Some Democrats are concerned that the timetable may fall short of his election vow to withdraw troops.

Mr Obama had said previously that he would completely pull out troops within 16 months of taking the top job.

Earlier this month, he ordered the deployment of up to 17,000 extra US troops to Afghanistan.

The president said the soldiers had been due to go to Iraq but were being redirected to "meet urgent security needs".

Middle way

Mr Obama is expected to make his announcement in Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

A senior administration official told reporters that Mr Obama will announce that "our combat mission will end on 31 August, 2010".

"At that point, the US forces remaining in Iraq will undertake a new mission, a more limited mission," he said on condition of anonymity.

The force, sized "at around 35-50,000" soldiers, will train, equip and advise Iraqi troops, protect US civilian and military interests and conduct "targeted counter-terrorism operations".

The official said the aim is to have "zero" US troops in Iraq by the end of 2011, in line with an agreement signed between the two countries last year.

The plan is a middle way between the speedy reduction Mr Obama envisaged during his election campaign and the slower one some military leaders may prefer, BBC North America editor Justin Webb says.

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