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Iraq combat ops end Aug. 31, US says

The US says it will end combat operations in Iraq as scheduled on August 31 despite the recent surge in violence in the area, the White House said on Wednesday.

“We’re on target by the end of the month to end our combat mission” in Iraq, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters at a press briefing.

The US currently has 64,000 soldiers stationed in Iraq but plans to reduce that number to 50,000 by the end of August.

According to a bilateral security pact, all US troops are to leave Iraq by the end of 2011.

However, on Wednesday Iraq’s top army officer, Lt. General Babakar Zerbari, said he believes the withdrawal of US forces is premature because foreign troops will be needed for another decade in Iraq.

Zerbari’s remarks might have been influenced by the fact that earlier in the day, eight of his soldiers were killed in an attack as a result of questionable security.

US President Barack Obama has vowed to withdraw the troops on schedule.

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