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US holds Iraq withdrawal ceremony

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A Baghdad ceremony marks the official end of the US military mission in Iraq on December 15, 2011.

American troops are holding a ceremony in the Iraqi capital city, Baghdad, to mark the official end of the US military presence in the Middle Eastern country, Press TV reports.

During the highly symbolic ceremony on Thursday, which according to a US army tradition is called “casing,” the US military took down its flags and put them in a case to send them back home.

Meanwhile, thousands of military advisers and diplomats are expected to remain in Iraq as part of US embassy personnel in Baghdad, with US President Barack Obama pledging to keep a robust diplomatic presence in the country.

The withdrawal comes after nearly nine years of US occupation of Iraq that has left some 4500 Americans dead and cost Washington more than USD 800 billion.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta who was speaking at the Thursday ceremony said that the war was worth the price.

More than one million Iraqis have been killed in the US-led invasion and subsequent occupation of the country since 2003, according to the California-based investigative organization Project Censored.

Washington claimed the military action was carried out to find and destroy weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in the country while former dictator Saddam Hussein’s Baathist regime was still in power.

However, no WMDs were ever discovered in Iraq.


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