US marks final phase of Iraq war
Baghdad - The US marks on Wednesday the transition to the final phase of the Iraq war, shifting the focus of the remaining 50 000 American troops from combat operations to preparing Iraqi security forces to protect the country on their own.
President Barack Obama set the tone for changing the role without fanfare, making clear in a major speech on Iraq Tuesday that this was no victory celebration.
A six-month stalemate over forming a new Iraqi government has raised concerns about the country's stability and questions over whether the leadership can cope with a diminished but still dangerous insurgency.
Vice-President Joe Biden, Defence Secretary Robert Gates, and Joint Chiefs Chairperson Admiral Mike Mullen will preside over a military change-of-command ceremony in Baghdad that will signal the formal end of American combat operations in Iraq, 7 years after the March 2003 invasion that toppled dictator Saddam Hussein.