After nearly nine years, the U.S. military mission in Iraq has come to a formal end as U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recognized an "independent, free and sovereign Iraq" two weeks prior to the official Dec. 31 deadline for U.S. troops to leave the country. The following gallery is a photographic look back at the previous nine years of conflict, tragedy and loss throughout the war in Iraq.
The motorcade carrying President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki of Iraq makes his way to Arlington National Cemetery for a wreath laying ceremony December 12, 2011 in Arlington, Virginia. UPI/Olivier Douliery/Pool
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