Iraq takes control of last US military base

AFP , Friday 16 Dec 2011

US military signs over to Baghdad the last of its military bases in Iraq in a low key ceremony held in the city of Nasiriya

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American flag flies above the Senior Mission Commander Command Mayor Cell at Camp Adder, near Nasiriyah, Iraq, 3 December, 2011 (Photo: Reuters)

The US military signed over to Baghdad the last of its military bases in Iraq at a ceremony near the southern city of Nasiriyah on Friday, an AFP journalist said.

The Iraqi base of Imam Ali, referred to by the US military as Camp Adder, lies southwest of Nasiriyah, and was officially handed over to Hussein al-Assadi, the Iraqi official responsible for base transfers on Friday.

The base is also adjacent to the ancient city of Ur, the Biblical birthplace of Abraham.

It comes a day after US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and top US commanders took part in a low-key ceremony near Baghdad airport that marked the end of their mission in Iraq.

All that remains of the American military in Iraq are around 4,000 soldiers, down from a peak of nearly 170,000 troops on 505 bases across the country. After year-end, the US embassy will retain just 157 US soldiers, for training of Iraqi forces, and a group of marines to secure the diplomatic mission.

The withdrawal ends a war that left tens of thousands of Iraqis and nearly 4,500 American soldiers dead, many more wounded, and 1.75 million Iraqis displaced, after the US-led invasion of 2003 unleashed brutal sectarian conflict.

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