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Iraqi forces ready for US pullout, says Army's Odierno

Attacks such as Saturday's bombing in Basra will not stop the US's planned drawdown of troops in Iraq, the commander of US forces in Iraq said Sunday.

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Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of US forces in Iraq, speaks during a press conference in Baghdad on July 6.

Karim Kadim/AP/File

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The United States is on track to meet a Sept. 1 deadline for withdrawing combat troops from Iraq, says Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander of US forces there.

Speaking from Baghdad Sunday morning on ABC's "This Week" television program, Odierno said Iraqi forces have been taking on more responsibility gradually over the past months, and will be ready to take the reins when the US draws down forces at the end of this month, from 80,000 to 50,000 troops.

"For the last 20 months, we've been slowly and deliberately turning over more and more responsibility to [Iraqi security forces], and they have stepped up," Odierno told "This Week" anchor Christiane Amanpour. "They continue to do broad-scoped operations across all of Iraq. We continue to help them as they do these, and that will continue after 1 September."

Violence has flared in the run-up to the deadline. July was Iraq's deadliest month in two years, and that trend continued Saturday when a series of explosions rocked a crowded Basra market, killing 43, according to BBC News.

Odierno said attacks such as Saturday's are attempts to "to stop the political process moving forward, to stop democracy moving forward, and to cause the government of Iraq not to continue its progress." Despite such attacks, he said he sees "a broad change in the security environment here in Iraq" from where things were when he arrived four years ago.

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