Obama: Iraq troop drawdown on time

Amid violence president insists US combat operations nearing end.

Iraq Violence 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Iraq Violence 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
BAGHDAD — Bombings and drive-by shootings killed 12 people Monday, a reminder of Iraq's ongoing instability as President Barack Obama cited progress amid the looming end of US military operations in the country.
The latest violence and government figures showing that July was the deadliest month for Iraqis in more than two years revived persistent questions about the readiness by Iraqi security forces to take over from the Americans as the US military draws down its forces and ends all combat operations at the end of the month.
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They also confirm the widely spread belief that insurgents are taking advantage of a political impasse over forming a new government after a March 7 parliamentary election failed to produce a clear winner.
"But make no mistake: Our commitment in Iraq is changing, from a military effort led by our troops to a civilian effort led by our diplomats," Obama said his Monday speech to disabled veterans in Atlanta.
The US has repeatedly insisted Iraq is stable enough to proceed with the troop drawdown on schedule and violence has dramatically declined in Iraq since 2008. But attacks remain a daily occurrence, especially in Baghdad.
The U.S. plans to draw its forces in Iraq down to 50,000 by the end of this month and the last American soldier will leave by the end of next year. There are about 65,000 U.S. troops currently in Iraq.
Figures released by Iraqi authorities over the weekend showed that July was the deadliest month for Iraqis — 535 killed — since May 2008 when 563 were killed.
The figures, dismissed by the US military as too high, deepened concerns over Iraq's precarious security even as the political deadlock persists and the United States continues to draw down on its forces.