US Troops Leave Iraq

Posted December 18th, 2011 at 3:55 am (UTC-5)
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The last convoy of U.S. soldiers left Iraq and entered Kuwait Sunday.

The last of the vehicles filled with several hundred troops crossed the border at 7:38 a.m. , leaving behind just a couple hundred soldiers as the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.

The withdrawal of U.S. forces ends nearly nine years of war, costing the lives of some 4,500 U.S. soldiers, tens of thousands of Iraqis, and hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars.

The war in Iraq began in 2003 with a “shock and awe” campaign to oust dictator Saddam Hussein.

At the height of the war, more than 170,000 U.S. troops were stationed in Iraq at more than 500 bases. By Saturday, fewer than 3,000 U.S. troops remained.

Critics have chastised the U.S. for leaving behind a destroyed country with thousands of widows and orphans, a people deeply divided along sectarian lines, and without rebuilding much of the devastated infrastructure.

Prime Minister Nouri a-Maliki's Shi'ite-led government struggles with a power-sharing arrangement among Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish parties.

U.S. President Barack Obama says the future of Iraq is “in the hands of its own people.”