U.S. troops may stay in Iraq beyond withdrawal deadline

The U.S. has decided to keep 10,000 troops in Iraq past the withdrawal deadline.</p>

The U.S. has decided to keep 10,000 troops in Iraq past the withdrawal deadline.

The U.S. is prepared to keep up to 10,000 troops in Iraq after the end of the year amid fears of increased terror attacks in response to the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

However, maintaining U.S. troops in the country beyond their December departure date would have to be approved by the Iraqi government, which the LA Times reports have so far made no formal request for troops to stay on.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that the Iraqi government was running out of time to make that appeal, Reuters reports. Carney said:

There is only so much time here available for the Iraqi government to make such a request. If they do we will consider it, otherwise we are keeping on schedule.

Of the over 166,000 troops deployed to Iraq during the military's peak presence in 2007, about 46,000 remain in the country. All but some 200 are due to withdraw by the end of this year, with those 200 staying as advisors to the Iraqi government.

According to figures maintained by iCasualty.org, over 4,400 U.S. troops have been killed in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, including 39 this year.

Meanwhile, General Lloyd Austin, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, warned Tuesday that militant attacks could discourage foreign investment and cause companies to pull out of Iraq. Austin said that increased economic development in the south of the country was led by security improvements in the area, Radio Free Europe reports.

Dozens of people were killed Tuesday after two explosions struck the crowded car park of a government building in the town of Taji, about 12 miles north of Baghdad.

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