WASHINGTON, Sept 1 (KUNA) -- US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates arrived
here Wednesday morning on an unannounced visit that coincided with the start
of the end of US combat operations in Iraq.
Spokesman of the US Embassy here told KUNA that Gates will attend a
ceremony in which the US leadership in Iraq will be handed over from General
Raymond Odierno to Lieutenant General Lloyd Austin.
He said that Gates headed, upon his arrival to Iraq, to Al-Asad Air Base in
Al-Anbar governorate, 100 kilometers west Baghdad.
Gates told reporters that the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq was not
possible without the great security achievements accomplished in the past
He warned that Al-Qaeda was still a threat to Iraq that has political
Attacks are in their lowest level since the beginning of the war in 2003,
despite the recent security accidents, he said.
The number of US troops in Iraq declined since August 18 to 49,700.
The number is expected to stay as is until next summer.
The number of US troops in Iraq in 2007 was about 167,000, in addition to
several thousands troops from other countries like Britain. (end)
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