US formally ends Iraq campaign; NATO ends its training mission in Iraq unexpectedly
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  • (December 12-18, 2011)

    In a notable development, according to reports, United States forces formally marked the end of their mission in Iraq with a low-key ceremony near Baghdad on December 15, after nearly nine years of war that began with the invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, the Iraqi dictator. There are a little more than 4,000 U.S. soldiers in Iraq, but they will depart in the coming days, at which point almost no more American troops will remain in a country where there were once nearly 170,000 personnel on more than 500 bases. "Your dream of an independent and sovereign Iraq is now reality," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at the symbolic flag-lowering ceremony held near Baghdad's airport. "This is a time for Iraq to look forward. This is an opportunity for Iraq to forge ahead on a path to security and prosperity," said Panetta assuring Iraqi people of continuous US support. 1

    In another development, according to reports, NATO ended its training mission in Iraq on December 17 as alliance officials lamented the collapse of a deal to extend it because Iraq refused to grant its troops immunity from prosecution, a key demand of NATO. U.S. Lt. Gen. NATO's training mission in Iraq was aimed at assisting "in the development of Iraqi security forces training structures and institutions,". As of November 2011, 12 countries were represented in its force, comprising around 120 soldiers. 2