Election bodes well for troop withdrawal

March 9, 2010 at 10:42 AM
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BAGHDAD, March 9 (UPI) -- Iraq's election success was such that the U.S. military still plans to pull nearly half of its combat troops this year, the top U.S. commander in Iraq said.

U.S. Army Gen. Ray Odierno said Sunday's election was another milestone that allows him to meet President Barack Obama's goal of withdrawing all but 50,000 non-combat forces from Iraq by the end of August, USA Today reported Tuesday.

"Unless there's a catastrophic event, we don't see that changing," Odierno said. "We believe we're right on track."

Odierno said the current level of about 96,000 service personnel would remain basically flat until May then gradually be reduced through August.

Iraqi election officials said they should have preliminary results later this week. Turnout indicates Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and his chief competitor, Iyad Allawi, were on a collision course over control of 325-seat parliament, analysts said.

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