BEIJING, Dec. 13 (Xinhuanet) -- The US military have been withdrawing its troops from Iraq. US President Barack Obama announced in October that the government will withdraw all troops from the country by the end of 2011, following an agreement made with Prime Minister Mouri al-Maliki. But the departure of US soldiers does not necessarily mean the war is over.
The number of US troops in Iraq has dwindled to about 8-thousand, down from 170-thousand at the war's peak in 2007.
The number is expected to hit zero by the end of December, with the exception of about 2-hundred soldiers attached to the US embassy in Baghdad.
They have also handed over to Iraqi forces the large Kalso military base.
As heavily laden US vehicles began to depart the base for the last time, US military and Iraqi government representatives shook hands to seal the handover.
Lt. Col. Jason Hayes, US Army Officer, said, "I am happy for the Iraqi people, that they are able to secure themselves and are looking at their best interests. I am also very happy that we are upholding the security agreement and leaving on time."
Although some were pleased to see the Iraqi people take control of their own security, the withdrawal of all American troops has been deeply divisive in both the US and Iraq.
Iraqi leaders have said they want US military training assistance but have been unable to agree on what type of help they'd like or what protection they would be willing to give American instructors.
The contours of the partnership between Washington and Baghdad remain murky, especially with Iran eager to assert influence over its neighbour. And serious questions remain about Iraq's capacity to stabilise both its politics and security.
But one thing is clear that with the end of 2011 fast approaching, the last batch of American Soldiers currently deployed in Iraq will be able to make it home for the holidays.
Special Report: Situation in Iraq