Some 4,000 US forces will be exiting Iraq in the coming days. 'Iraq will be tested in days ahead,' warned Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, at an end-of-mission ceremony Thursday.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP
Eight years in coming, a ceremony Tuesday marked the conclusion of an American military mission that was alternately labeled a breeze, a mistake, a civil war, and a quagmire.
Today, “after a great deal of blood spilled by the Iraqis and the Americans, the mission of an Iraq that could govern and secure itself has become real,” he added.
The uncertainty remains, US officials warn, but from the perspective of US troops here, “This actually represents an end,” said Major General Jeffrey Buchanan, spokesman for US forces in Iraq. He spoke in the hours before what was dubbed the official “End of Mission” ceremony here.