Biden brings down curtain on US Iraq operations (VIDEO)
US military marked the end of its Iraq operations in a ceremony attended by Vice President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The remaining 13,000 US troops are due to withdraw by end of year.
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Maliki said: "On this occasion, I call on all the political powers – clerics, sheikhs of tribes, intellectuals, artists, journalists and civil society groups – to stand alongside our security forces and our political process in this sensitive stage that we are passing through."Skip to next paragraph
The Iraqi government has announced that the conclusion of the final US troop withdrawal will be known as the "Day of Loyalty."
No press, please
Journalists in Baghdad were not allowed to attend the ceremony, due to a last minute Iraqi decision, made near midnight, which overruled the efforts of US military and Embassy press officials to organize the Baghdad press corps.
Details of journalists, translators and drivers – including press card and national identity document details, and car license plates – were requested days in advance.
Journalists were to arrive at Entry Check Point 14 at Victory Base, hours beforehand, to go through rigorous security checks.
But then an e-mail alert came through from the US military, which said in capital letters that "no Western media will be allowed to attend" the ceremony. Only journalists traveling with Biden from Washington would cover it.
"For further information, please direct your questions to the Government of Iraq," the e-mail said. "Do not proceed to ECP-14 in the morning. You will not be granted admittance..."
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IN PICTURES: Leaving Iraq