US President Barack Obama announces the end of the country’s combat mission in Iraq, repeating his predecessor George W. Bush some seven years ago.
“Tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended. Operation Iraqi Freedom is over,” he said on Tuesday.
The US led Iraq’s invasion in March 2003 based on allegations that the country harbored weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Later findings proved that not only Iraq was not in possession of the arms, but also that the officials who rallied support for the invasion had been informed about the nonexistence of the weapons.
Months into the invasion, Bush also announced the mission accomplished. The forces, however, continued to stay to date and incite militants, who had not taken a liking to the long-drawn-out presence.
Iraq’s people, meanwhile, bore the brunt of the violence, losing over one million to either the crossfire or instances of the forces’ deliberate acts of aggression.
Taking serious toll on the local residents were two wholesale US attacks on Fallujah in central Iraq in 2004.
A study, titled “Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009,” revealed that the toxic trail left by the American onslaughts have proved deadlier than the one besetting the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which were targeted by US atomic bombs in 1945.
Nearly 4,500 American forces were also killed through out the years in Iraq.
About 50,000 of the troopers are currently stationed in the country despite the Tuesday announcement. The commander-in-chief also said that the US diplomats, aid workers and advisors would remain in Iraq.
Washington has also unveiled plans to increase the number of American security contractors, tasked with securing American diplomats and diplomatic facilities, including the American embassy.
The employees are entitled by the US State Department to carry firearms. Staffers with the most infamous of the security firms, Blackwater, currently known as Xe Services, LLC, killed 17 civilians in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad’s Nisour Square during a shooting spree in 2007.
The US plans to fortify the embassy have raised new suspicion about the diplomatic outpost’s purpose in the also politically-gridlocked country, currently without a future government since parliamentary polls on March 7, which failed to produce a conclusive winner.
Obama, though, said the US had redoubled “efforts to strengthen Iraq’s Security Forces and support its government and people.”
The US president also announced the US military will be focusing on the war in Afghanistan.