The page has turned, Iraq combat mission is over, says Obama

     US President Barack Obama has declared the American combat mission in Iraq as over, and made clear that he intends to begin disengaging from the war in Afghanistan next summer. "We have sent our young men and women to make enormous sacrifices in Iraq , and spent vast resources abroad at a time of tight budgets at home. Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the United States and Iraq , we have met our responsibility. Now, it's time to turn the page," the New York Times quoted Obama, as saying. Obama acknowledged that he had a disagreement with his predecessor George Bush over Iraq , but said that no one could doubt Bush's "support for our troops, or his love of country and commitment to our security." Obama said the nation's perseverance in Iraq must be matched by determination to address problems at home. "Over the last decade, we have spent over a trillion dollars at war, often financed by borrowing from overseas. And so at this moment, as we wind down the war in Iraq, we must tackle those challenges at home with as much energy and grit and sense of common purpose as our men and women in uniform who have served abroad," the New York Times quoted him, as saying. Obama acknowledged a war fatigue among Americans who have called into question his focus on the Afghanistan war, now approaching its 10th year. He said that American forces in Afghanistan "will be in place for a limited time" to give Afghans the chance to build their government and armed forces. He reiterated that next July he would begin transferring responsibility for security to Afghans, at a pace to be determined by conditions on the ground. The withdrawal of combat forces represents a significant milestone after the war that toppled Saddam Hussein, touched off waves of sectarian strife and claimed the lives of more than 4,400 American soldiers and more than 70,000 Iraqis, according to United States and Iraqi government figures.

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