Washington (AFP) July 28, 2010
US Vice President Joe Biden declared Wednesday that anti-US forces who wanted to consign Iraq to "chaos and destruction" had failed, as he welcomed home a much decorated military unit.
Biden also savored the fact that in one month, US combat operations will end, more than seven years after the US invasion to topple Saddam Hussein, in line with a campaign promise of President Barack Obama.
"You and your colleagues persevered and succeeded," Biden said, welcoming home the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, from Iraq.
"With your help, Iraq's leaders and security forces are persevering and succeeding -- and therefore those who sought to make chaos and destruction a hallmark of the new Iraq have failed because of you," Biden said at Fort Drum in upstate New York.
"I've been looking forward to this day for a long time... one month from now, as President Obama pledged, America's combat mission in Iraq will end."
The 2nd Brigade Combat team is one of the most deployed units of the last near decade in which America has fought constant foreign wars, with three deployments to Afghanistan and four to Iraq.
Its most recent tour saw the brigade deploy to eastern Baghdad in October 2009, partnering Iraqi security forces.
Biden said the unit had helped Iraqi soldiers to "safeguard their future as a sovereign, stable and self-reliant country. Now it is up to the Iraqi people and their leaders to step up to that responsibility."
On Tuesday however, Iraq's political crisis deepened, as parliament indefinitely postponed only its second session since March elections, extending the deadlock that has prevented the formation of a new government.
The delay is the latest setback in a nearly five-month process, and comes barely more than a month before the withdrawal of US combat troops.
At Fort Drum, Biden said that like US soldiers, Iraqis had made "great sacrifices" which needed to repaid by action from their divided political factions.
"Today, in an Iraq once mired in sectarian conflict, politics has broken out."
"It is now up to their political leaders to match the courage their citizens have shown and deserve to see in return," Biden said, though expressed confidence that Iraq's politicians would eventually produce a viable government.
The vice president, who Obama put in charge of overseeing the US drawdown from Iraq, also paid tribute to 2nd Brigade soldiers who did not make it home.
"There is little comfort we can give to the families of the fallen angels who have taken their final trip home... they have paid a price few of their fellow citizens can fathom."
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Iraq: The first technology war of the 21st century
Mortars kill seven pilgrims in Iraq holy city: police
Karbala, Iraq (AFP) July 28, 2010
A mortar attack killed seven people and wounded 46 in the southern Shiite holy city of Karbala as pilgrims gathered for a ceremony, Iraqi police said on Wednesday. "Several mortars landed at 11:00 pm (0800 GMT on Tuesday), killing seven pilgrims and injuring 46, in a neighbourhood located four kilometres (2.3 miles) northwest of the centre of the city," a Karbala police officer said. "Th ... read more
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