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The last American combat troops in Iraq have left the country, more than seven years after a US-led invasion toppled Iraqi former leader Saddam Hussein.
|Coming home: A column of U.S. Army Stryker armored vehicles cross the border from Iraq |
The rest are driving through the night on the way to Kuwait, from where they will fly home to be reunited with loved ones.
There is a mix of jubilation and relief.
US soldier, said, "It's just a whole bunch of stress just off my shoulders, but it feels good to be in Kuwait, about to head home."
US soldier, said, "Best part of getting back to Kuwait? One, I know no one else will get hurt, and two, I am going home."
US soldier, said, "Glad we made it this far. One more step, and then we are one step closer to going home."
The withdrawal is well ahead of US President Barack Obama's August 31st deadline for ending US combat operations there.
US commanders say it was the brigade's idea, not an order from higher up.
A senior Obama administration official says the US troop strength in Iraq is now 56,000.
Obama has said the troop number is expected to be drawn down to 50,000 by the end of this month. The soldiers staying behind will all be on a training mission for another year.