National Sovereignty Day in Iraq

June 30, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Four U.S. soldiers were killed in combat in Iraq Tuesday. The top U.S. military commander in Iraq said Iran still supports and trains militants who carry out attacks. The American deaths come just as U.S. troops completed a withdrawal from urban areas. The Iraqi government has named June 30 "National Sovereignty Day" and declared it a public holiday, marking the day U.S. forces went home. The withdrawal is the first major step toward removing all American forces from the country by 2011.

It was the day many Iraqis had been waiting for; the day they got their national sovereignty back.

From towns to cities across Iraq, American boots will no longer be on the ground as a combat force and at the forefront of the violence. Instead, it will be Iraqi forces patrolling the streets, and they are out in full force.

But U.S. troops will not entirely be removed. They'll take a back seat role with a few hundred advising and training their Iraqi counterparts. The man in charge, Iraq's Interior Minister said Iraqis are ready to improve their security. But within the last couple of weeks, there have been more bloody attacks in Baghdad, some are questioning just how prepared they really are.

"Because of those explosions, I'm afraid," said one Iraqi woman, "and as the day gets closer I get more fearful."

And so are some U.S. soldiers. "If it doesn't, then it's wasteful, millions of dollars, American lives, Iraqi lives, civilians. It needs to succeed it just has to," said Benjamin Corbett with the U.S. Army.

For now U.S. soldiers will retreat to bases on the outskirts of the cities and will be on call.

Tuesday, the real test for Iraqi forces begins, but U.S. troops won't fully withdraw until the end of 2011 and could join in the fight if they are asked to.

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