Obama salutes US Iraq war veterans
President Barack Obama has saluted troops back from Iraq, applauding their "extraordinary achievement" and declaring that the nearly nine-year conflict was ending "not with a final battle, but with a final march toward home."
Marking the conclusion of the war at Fort Bragg military base in North Carolina, Mr Obama and first lady Michelle Obama addressed several thousand troops and several hundred military families.
All US troops are to be out of Iraq by December 31, although Mr Obama has pledged the US will continue to help Iraq.
"The war in Iraq will soon belong to history, and your service belongs to the ages," he said.
He highlighted the human side of the war, reflecting on the bravery and sacrifices of US forces now on their way back home. He recalled the start of the war, a time when he was only an Illinois state senator and many of the warriors before him were in grade school.
The war, he said, took many twists and turns.
"We knew this day would come. We have known it for some time now," he said. "But still, there is something profound about the end of a war that has lasted so long."
He noted the early battles that defeated and deposed Saddam Hussein and what he called "the grind of insurgency" - roadside bombs, snipers and suicide attacks.
"Your will proved stronger than the terror of those who tried to break it," he said.