"Those who think that Iraqis are not able to protect their country and that the withdrawal of foreign forces will create a security vacuum are committing a big mistake."
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, in nationally televised address as U.S. combat troops begin their withdrawal from Iraqi cities.
Iraq's Prime Minister takes to the airwaves to celebrate the beginning of U.S. troop withdrawal in Iraqi cities, praising the pullback as a "joint achievement by all Iraqis" and declaring the date National Sovereignty Day. Citizens rejoice in Baghdad, where foreign troops have been positioned since the 2003 U.S. invasion.
President Barack Obama marks the withdrawal with little fanfare, calling the day "an important milestone" while cautioning of "difficult days ahead." The Iraqi government's ability to maintain security remains in doubt (just before the withdrawal began June 30 four U.S. soldiers were killed in combat in Baghdad). Some American troops stay in the cities to assist Iraqi security forces, and the U.S. can continue operations outside of urban areas with the Iraqi government's consent.