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30 Aug, 2010 18:38

US troops to leave Iraq

More US troops are preparing to leave Iraq despite a recent wave of violence in the country.

President Obama is giving a speech on Tuesday in the White House highlighting the US priorities in the Middle East.

American soldiers are almost at the end of their combat mission after seven years of fighting. However, about 50,000 will remain in Iraq to provide training and support for local security forces.

However, Brian Becker, director of ANSWER coalition, says the partial withdrawal of troops does not mean the end of the conflict.

We see not the end of the occupation, but a certain diminishing of the occupation in terms of some of the troop numbers,” Becker said. “I believe the occupation of Iraq will go on for many years.”

John Laughland from the Institute for Democracy and Cooperation says there is no withdrawal at all, and this is more to do with Obama's fulfillment of an election campaign promise.

“What we are dealing with here is a political package, it’s an administrative change. The troops who are already in Iraq will stay there, the name of the mission changes, but they will still be combat troops, they will still be engaged in combat operations. And, after all, an American soldier died again only on Sunday,” John Laughland said. “So this is indeed all about presenting, or rather creating a reality which in fact does not exist.”

Analysts say Baghdad doesn't control the country which remains split and plagued by insurgent violence. Last week, dozens of Iraqis died in a wave of terror attacks.

British MP and critic of the war Paul Flynn says the operation "Iraqi Freedom" has barely lived up to its name, and has cost the US dearly.

“If it is a freedom [in Iraq], it’s bought at huge cost. It cost $750 billion for the Americans, it’s a loss of 4,500 of their soldiers, at least 100,000 Iraqis were killed, three million Iraqis were exiled from their homes. Most of them wanted to get rid of Saddam Hussein, but they have had seven bloody terrible years, and it cost the US its reputation as a peace-making nation,” Paul Flynn said.

Surviving the war, though, is only half the battle, as some soldiers return home with post-war stress disorder.

Iraq veteran and now anti-war activist Martin Webster says the stress is aggravated by the thought the war was illegal.

So how do you cope when you come back?” said Webster. “You know, you’ve got a medal for a war that is looked upon as a dirty stain on the country or something that not many people are proud to say they’ve been part of.”