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Odierno: Withdrawal from Iraq on track

| April 19, 2010 9:00 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) - The planned withdrawal of nearly 45,000 U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of August is on track in spite of a recent increase in attacks by militant forces, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq said Sunday.

Army Gen. Ray Odierno said that al-Qaida's strength in Iraq is steadily degrading. Unless there's a dramatic and unforeseen change in the security situation, the U.S. troop drawdown will go ahead as scheduled, he said.

There are now about 95,000 U.S. troops in Iraq, according to Odierno. The U.S. plans to cut that number to 50,000 by Aug. 31, when it will end combat operations.

"I fully expect us to be at 50,000 by the first of September," Odierno said on "Fox News Sunday."

As part of an agreement with Iraq, the U.S. will withdraw all forces by the end of 2011.

Odierno's remarks came as he prepared to leave Iraq at the end of the summer as part of a scheduled rotation. His replacement will be Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, the staff director for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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