General: Al-Qaeda Threatens Iraq Withdrawal Deadline

Troops may stay in Mosul, Baqubah beyond June 30
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2009 1:38 AM CDT
A US Army soldier from Demon Dog Company engages his Iraqi colleague in a friendly arm wrestling competition during a patrol in eastern Mosul.   (AP Photo/Marko Drobnjakovic)
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(Newser) – The US may have to ignore the June 30 deadline for US troops to pull out of Iraqi cities if al-Qaeda is to be defeated, America's top commander in Iraq tells the Times of London. Gen. Ray Odierno believes the military can stick to most of the withdrawal timetable, but he plans to consult with Iraqi authorities about keeping troops in Mosul and Baqubah.

"We won’t see a large reduction in any forces in Mosul or Diyala," Odierno said. "In fact, we might see reinforcements in those areas if we continue to have issues." Odierno is also worried about rising tensions between Arabs and Kurds in northern Iraq, and increasingly better-organized Iranian-backed militants.