Washington, Sep 1 (DPA): US President Barack Obama Tuesday declared an end to the US combat mission in Iraq, more than seven years after the US-led invasion of the Middle Eastern country.
In live address from the White House less than two weeks after the last US combat brigade left Iraq, Obama said it was time for Iraqis themselves to take responsibility for their security.
"Tonight, I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended," he said in an evening speech televised from the Oval Office. "Operation Iraqi Freedom is over, and the Iraqi people now have lead responsibility for the security of their country."
"Through this remarkable chapter in the history of the US and Iraq, we have met our responsibility. Now, it is time to turn the page."
Fewer than 50,000 US troops remain in Iraq and will be responsible for training the Iraqi military and some counterterrorism operations. The US State Department will take over direction of the new mission - called "New Dawn" - from the military.
Nearly 100,000 troops have left Iraq since Obama took office in January 2009. The president has instead sharpened the military focus on Afghanistan.
Obama, who opposed the US-led invasion of Iraq, highlighted the "huge price" in lives and treasure of the seven-year war effort and pledged a renewed focus on boosting the US' flagging economy as troops come home.
"Today, our most urgent task is to restore our economy and put the millions of Americans who have lost their jobs back to work," he said.
More than 4,400 US soldiers have been killed since the start of the US-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003.