US forces mark end of Iraq mission


US forces formally marked the end of their mission in Iraq with a low-key ceremony near Baghdad on Thursday, after nearly nine years of divisive war that began with the invasion to oust Saddam Hussein.
The “casing of the colours” near the airport, the first site the US occupied in Baghdad in 2003, comes with around 4,000 US soldiers still in Iraq, all of whom will depart in the coming days. After that, all that will remain are 157 soldiers under the authority of the American embassy in Iraq, a country where there were once nearly 170,000 troops on more than 500 bases. 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 unleashed brutal sectarian fighting.