Wednesday, December 31, 2008

U.S. Vacates Baghdad Palace Ahead Of Handover

U.S. Army soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 21st Infantry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division scan for suspicious activity during a patrol of the Diyala River Valley in Iraq on Dec. 27, 2008. DoD photo by Petty Officer Walter J. Pels, U.S. Navy. (Released)

From Yahoo News/Reuters:

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – U.S. officials withdrew on Wednesday from the Saddam Hussein-era palace they have occupied in Baghdad since 2003, a sign of the change of power when their troops come under Iraqi authority at midnight.

The U.S. force in Iraq, now more than 140,000 strong, has operated since 2003 under a U.N. Security Council resolution which expires at midnight on New Year's Eve. From January 1, U.S. troops will operate with authority granted by the Iraqi government under a pact agreed by Washington and Baghdad.

The pact -- viewed by both countries as a milestone in restoring Iraqi sovereignty -- requires U.S. troops to leave in three years, revokes their power to hold Iraqis without charge and subjects contractors and off-duty troops to Iraqi law.

Iraq also reached a deal with Washington's main ally Britain on Tuesday giving its 4,100 troops until the end of July to depart. Small contingents from Australia, El Salvador, Romania, Estonia and the NATO alliance will also leave in 2009.

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My Comment: I am sure that a lot of souvenirs have been taken as mementos to bring back to the U.S. A small reminder for some of the high cost of this mission.

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