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8,000 US troops left in Iraq, down to zero by end of year

Only a handful of US bases and several thousand soldiers remain in Iraq today, with most of them to be gone by the end of 2011.

Iraq us troop withdrawal 2011 12 7Enlarge
An Iraqi Police officer keeps watch outside Saint Mary of Rosary Catholic Church on December 4, 2011 in Baghdad, Iraq. American forces are now in the midst of the final stage of withdrawal from the war-torn country. According to the Iraq Body Count at least 4,485 U.S. military personnel have died in service in Iraq and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died from war-related violence. (Mario Tama/AFP/Getty Images)

About 300,000 uniformed personnel and contractors spread across 500 bases occupied Iraq during the height of America’s nearly nine-year occupation. Today, all but 8,000 US troops and 5,000 contractors remain, the Wall Street Journal reported.

With the end of 2011 fast approaching, the last batch of American Soldiers currently deployed in Iraq will be able to make it home for the holidays.

That number is expected to move down to zero by the end of December, with the exception of about 200 soldiers attached to the US embassy in Baghdad, Al Jazeera reported.

In recent months, the US military have been withdrawing its troops and bases in Iraq. US President Barack Obama announced in October that the government will withdraw all American troops out of Iraq by the end of 2011 in an agreement made with Prime Minister Mouri al-Maliki.

More from GlobalPost: Obama announces full troop withdrawal from Iraq 

The US handed over the Camp Victory complex to Iraq Friday with a stroke of a signature. As much as 46,000 soldiers occupied Camp Victory at one point.

More from GlobalPost: Camp Victory: US hands over military headquarters to Iraq

Camp Adder, one of the only handful of active US bases left in Iraq, has also been staging a mass exit in the last month. As much as 1,000 vehicles have left the camp per day which has now dwindled down to 500.

The departure of US soldiers does not necessarily mean the war is over, however, as Al Jazeera wrote:

“Tens of millions of Iraqis are not leaving the country, of course, and for them the war is not over, not when car bombs and assassinations are a part of daily life. At least 187 civilians were killed last month in attacks, according to official figures, and the actual tally is almost certainly higher. The security situation in much of the country remains tenuous at best.”

The near decade war has taken a bloody toll for both countries. Nearly 4,500 U.S. military personnel and more than 100,000 Iraqi civilians have died from the war, according to Iraq Body Count.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/egypt/111207/8000-us-troops-left-iraq-down-zero-end-year