Four US soldiers were killed in combat shortly before the American military completed a withdrawal from Iraq's cities last night. But prime minister Nouri al-Maliki assured Iraqis in a televised address today that government forces are in control: "Those who think that Iraqis are not able to protect their country and that the withdrawal of foreign forces will create a security vacuum are committing a big mistake."
The military said the four soldiers who were killed served with the Multi-National Division-Baghdad but did not provide further details pending notification of their families. There was a significant spike in violence in the lead-up to the June 30 withdrawal. More than 250 people were killed in a series of bombings, including one on June 20 that left 81 dead outside a mosque in northern Iraq and another in a Baghdad market on June 24 that killed 78. Maliki has blamed the attacks on al-Qaeda in Iraq and the remnants of Saddam Hussein's Baath party.