Global Politics

US Military Operations in Iraq Formally Ended

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Credit: Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo

Gen. Lloyd James Austin III, commander, United States Forces-Iraq, and Command Sgt. Maj. Joseph R. Allen, case the USF-I flag during a flag casing ceremony that marked the end of Operation New Dawn, at the former Sather Air Base, in Baghdad, Iraq, Dec. 15, 2011. Since 2003, more than 1 million airmen, soldier, sailors and Marines have served in Iraq.

The flag of American forces in Iraq has been lowered in Baghdad, bringing nearly nine years of US military operations in Iraq to a formal end.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

The Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told troops the mission had been worth the cost in blood and dollars.

He said the years of war in Iraq had yielded to an era of opportunity in which the US was a committed partner.

Only about 4,000 US soldiers now remain in Iraq, but they are due to leave in the next two weeks.

At the peak of the operation, US forces there numbered 170,000.

As American troops are leaving Iraq, some Baghdad residents are breathing a sigh of relief.

Others are wary about what lies ahead, as Iraqi journalist Sahar Issa explains to host Marco Werman.

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