Iraq: Number of US troops falls below 50,000

BAGHDAD — The number of US troops in Iraq has fallen below 50,000 for the first time since the 2003 US-led invasion and ahead of the end-of-the-month deadline mandated by US President Barack Obama, the American military said in a statement Tuesday.
The number is a watershed in the more than seven years that the United States has been at war in Iraq. Under Obama's plan, American forces will no longer conduct combat operations but are instead to train Iraqi troops and help with counterterrorism operations — if asked for by the Iraqis.
"Today, in line with President Obama's direction and as part of the responsible drawdown of forces, US military force levels in Iraq are below 50,000," the statement read.