U.S. Ends Iraq Combat Operations

The last batch of American combatants was pulled out of Iraq on Thursday, signaling the end of the United States’ combat operations in the Middle Eastern country.

The last of the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division armored vehicles rolled into Kuwait Thursday morning, seven-and-a-half years since former President George W. Bush launched an all-out war against then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein on suspicion that the oil-rich country in the Middle East was keeping weapons of mass destruction. However, thousands of military and civilian deaths later, the U.S. has still to find the purported WMD cache of Hussein’s regime.

U.S. State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley confirmed the end of combat operations, but he reiterated that America’s involvement in rebuilding Iraq will continue. “We are ending the war … but we are not ending our work in Iraq,” Crowley said. The U.S. military said some 56,000 American soldiers remain in Iraq, still 6,000 short of the end-of-August target set by President Barack Obama.

Iraqi police and military will take over the maintenance of security in the country, while the remaining U.S. forces will play an “advise-and-assist role,” according to a statement by Obama.