US Troops to Stay in Iraqi Cities Past Deadline

Odierno says troops to stay past June, remain in 'close partnership' with Iraqis
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 13, 2008 12:45 PM CST
US soldiers secure an area during a joint patrol in Hay al Tinek neighborhood, northwestern Mosul, Nov. 12, 2008.    (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
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(Newser) – Not all American troops will be leaving Iraqi cities in June, despite a new security agreement with the Iraqi government requiring them to do so, Gen. Ray Odierno said today. A number of troops still to be negotiated with the Iraqi government will remain in city security posts to support Iraqi forces, said Odierno, who is now the top commander in Iraq, the Washington Post reports.

“We believe that’s part of our transition teams,” the general said. The comments coincided with an unannounced visit from Robert Gates, who reiterated the US commitment to withdraw in full by 2011. But Odierno said the pact could be revised before the deadline. “Three years is a very long time.” An Iraqi government spokesman said something similar earlier this week, but after howls from Sadrists, the Maliki government quickly shot the notion down.