A U.S. army soldier walks past military Humvees which are ready to be shipped out of Iraq at a staging yard at Camp Sather, part of the sprawling U.S. military Victory Base Complex that is set to close in Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011. The U.S. has promised to withdraw from Iraq by the end of the year as required by a 2008 security agreement between Washington and Baghdad. Some 41,000 U.S. troops are scheduled to clear out along with their equipment. It’s still unclear if the U.S. military will keep several thousand troops in Iraq as leaders weigh whether staunch political opposition in both nations is worth the risk. The uncertainty has been a logistical nightmare for American commanders, who could be asked at the last minute to keep some equipment and manpower back but for now must push ahead in case the withdrawal plan stands. (AP Photo/Khalid Mohammed)
BAGHDAD (AP) — The U.S. is abandoning plans to keep U.S. troops in Iraq past a year-end withdrawal deadline, The Associated Press has learned. The decision to pull out fully by January will effectively end more than eight years of U.S. involvement in the Iraq war, despite ongoing concerns about its security forces and the potential for instability.
The decision ends months of hand-wringing by U.S. officials over whether to stick to a Dec. 31 withdrawal deadline that was set in 2008 or negotiate a new security agreement to ensure that gains made and more than 4,400 American military lives lost since March 2003 do not go to waste.
In recent months, Washington has been discussing with Iraqi leaders the possibility of several thousand American troops remaining to continue training Iraqi security forces. A Pentagon spokesman said Saturday that no final decision has been reached about the U.S. training relationship with the Iraqi government.
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