US military lowers troop figure in Iraq


Baghdad : The US military command in Baghdad said Friday that the number of forces still in Iraq was 52,000, lower than the figure given the day before under the final pullout of combat troops.

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A figure Thursday was given of 56,000 soldiers still in Iraq. But the military command said that was based on data from Aug 17 and was already out of date.

Under the military drawdown plans, by Sep 1 the US troop strength in Iraq is to be down to 50,000, with their mission to be in supporting and training regular Iraqi forces but not having combat duties.

These US forces are to be withdrawn by the end of 2011. The US military command in Baghdad said the timetable would be strictly adhered to.

Thursday, after the disclosure of the withdrawal of the last combat brigade from Iraq, the US State Department said that it planned to double the number of private security contractors in Iraq to fill the void created by troop pullout.

Spokesman P. J. Crowley said more security personnel will be needed to protect diplomatic and civilian facilities and convoys as the State Department assumes the lead in Iraq from the US military.

“We will still have our own security needs to make sure our diplomats and development experts are well protected,” Crowley said.