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Petraeus: US to Cut Troops in Iraq
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Citing achievements of the troop "surge plan," the top US military commander in Iraq Gen. David Petraeus proposed on Monday a gradual drawdown of troop presence in that country.



In his high-profile testimony before a joint session of the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees, Petraeus said a Marine unit will depart Iraq later this month and recommended cutting US troop levels there by a single combat brigade or 4,000 in mid December.


In his vision, US troop levels in Iraq could drop back to 130,000 next summer, or the level before the Bush administration decided to send 30,000 additional troops to Iraq in January to quell violence.


There are currently 168,000 US troops in Iraq, the highest level since the war began in 2003.


However, Petraeus also warned a "premature" drawdown of US troops from Iraq would be "devastating."


The general also stopped short of saying what is next for US troops in Iraq beyond the summer of 2008.


"Our experience in Iraq has repeatedly shown that projecting too far into the future is not just difficult, it can be misleading and even hazardous," he said.


Responding to pre-hearing criticism that he is repeating the Bush administration line on Iraq, Petraeus in his opening statement said the testimony was his alone.


As expected, the testimony of Petraeus focused on the impact of President George W. Bush's troop "surge plan."


He claimed that the military objectives of the "surge plan" were reached.


"As a bottom line, up front the military objectives of the surge are in large measure being met," said Petraeus.


However, Democrats said the "surge plan" is a failure and opinion polls showed that the public also don't buy it.


(Xinhua News Agency September 11, 2007)

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