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Last US brigades pull out of Iraq

The last American combat brigade has left Iraq.

Captain Christopher Ophardt, spokesman for the 4th Stryker Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, said the last of the unit's vehicles crossed the border into Kuwait on Thursday morning.

As their convoy reached the barbed wire at the Khabari border crossing out of Iraq, the soldiers whooped and cheered. Then they scrambled out of their stifling armoured vehicles, unfurled an American flag and posed for group photos.

Most of the brigade's 4,000 soldiers have been driving out of Iraq in their armoured vehicles. A few hundred members stayed behind to finish administrative and logistical duties and will fly out of Baghdad later.

America's combat role in the country ends on August 31, although around 50,000 troops will stay in Iraq until the end of next year to continue to train Iraqi security forces as part of Operation New Dawn.

The spokesman for US forces in Iraq said Iraqi police and military are up to the task of keeping the country secure, but added that the sooner the government is seated the calmer the country would be.

Major General Stephen Lanza told CBS television that Iraqi security forces have shown professionalism and the will to improve and have made strong progress since 2003.

Maj Gen Lanza said that fewer than 6,000 combat troops now remain in Iraq as the drawdown continues toward the September 1 withdrawal deadline.

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