Last convoy of United States soldiers pulled out of Iraq this Sunday December 18 2011 1812111
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Defense News - United States
Sunday, December 18, 2011, 08:17 AM
|Last convoy of United States soldiers pulled out of Iraq this Sunday, December 18, 2011.|
The last convoy of United States soldiers pulled out of Iraq on Sunday, December 18, 2011, ending nearly nine years of war that cost almost 4,500 American and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives and left a country still grappling with political uncertainty.
Soldiers from the 3rd Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division, prepare to depart in the last convoy from Iraq, at Camp Adder, now known as Imam Ali Base, near Nasiriyah December 17, 2011.
The war launched in March 2003 with missiles striking Baghdad to oust dictator Saddam Hussein closes with a fragile democracy still facing insurgents, sectarian tensions and the challenge of defining its place in the Arab region.
The final column of around 100 mostly U.S. military MRAP armored vehicles carrying 500 U.S. troops trundled across the southern Iraq desert through the night along an empty highway and across the Kuwaiti border.
Honking their horns, the last batch of around 25 American military trucks and tractor trailers carrying Bradley fighting vehicles crossed the border early on Sunday, their crews waving at fellow troops along the route.
"I just can't wait to call my wife and kids and let them know I am safe," Rodolfo Ruiz said as the border came into sight. Soon afterwards, he told his men the mission was over, "Hey guys, you made it."
For President Barack Obama, the military pullout is the fulfillment of an election promise to bring troops home from a conflict inherited from his predecessor, the most unpopular war since Vietnam and one that tainted America's standing worldwide.
For Iraqis, the U.S. departure brings a sense of sovereignty but feeds nagging fears their country may slide once again into the kind of sectarian violence that killed thousands of people at its peak in 2006-2007.