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Sunday, September 9, 2007

Petraeus troop withdrawal plans

WASHINGTON - The top U.S. general in Iraq outlined plans Monday for the withdrawal of as many as 30,000 troops by next summer, drawing praise from the White House but a chilly reception from anti-war Democrats.

Gen. David Petraeus said a 2,000-member Marine unit would return home this month without replacement in the first sizable cut since a 2003 U.S-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein and unleashed sectarian violence.

Further "force reductions will continue," he told a nationally televised congressional hearing that was frequently interrupted by anti-war protesters.

Petraeus said it would be "premature to make recommendations on the pace," and he recommended that President Bush wait until March 2008 to make any decisions.

The cuts he outlined would return the U.S. force appoximately to levels in place when Bush ordered a buildup last winter to allow the Iraqi government time to forge a reconciliation among feuding factions.

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