Most US troops to leave Iraq by mid-Dec

Updated: 2011-11-04 09:10


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WASHINGTON - US forces are moving out of Iraq "at a high rate of speed," and most troops are scheduled to leave the country by mid-December, a senior US military official said Thursday.

The number of US service members in Iraq has been reduced to approximately 34,000, down about 7,000 over the last three weeks, Maj. Gen. Thomas Spoehr, Deputy Commanding General of US Forces in Iraq, told reporters from Baghdad via video teleconference.

Most of the remaining troops will take military flights to Kuwait and return to the US from there, while some will take direct commercial flights from Iraq to the US, the general said.

Along with troops reduction, the number of US military bases in Iraq also declined steadily, he said. There are currently 12 US military bases there, compared with 45 in August. Military equipment once numbering more than 2 million pieces is down to 600, 000, he added.

The US is scheduled to pull out all its troops from Iraq by December 31 under a 2008 security pact with the Iraqi government. The Obama administration failed last month to negotiate an agreement with the Iraqis over leaving several thousand US trainers in the country.

While Obama's withdrawal plan has been under continuous criticism from some Republican military hawks in Congress, it has widespread support from the public.

Seventy-five percent of Americans are in favor of the plan, including the vast majority of Democrats, Republicans and independents, according to a recent Gallup poll.