US Soldiers Complete Pull-Out From Iraq

The last U.S. troops stationed in Iraq left the country on Sunday, marking an end to nine years of U.S. engagement and thousands of lives lost.

The exodus of the remaining 500 U.S. soldiers have left the country in a fragile state of democracy and many fear that with the U.S. military withdrawal, the country will plunge into civil war.

Although the security situation has significantly improved since the peak of insecurity in 2006 and 2007, insurgency attacks remain commonplace and sectarian tensions have yet to be effectively subdued.

The war in Iraq cost the U.S. nearly 4,500 American lives and left 32,000 Americans wounded. Fiscally, the war effort totaled over $800 billion.

The war also claimed thousands of Iraqi lives, with some figures of the death toll totaling as high as 110,660, according to The Associated Press.

The U.S. went into Iraq in 2003 under President George W. Bush.

The Bush administration claimed that former leader Saddam Hussein was harboring weapons of mass destruction that poised a direct security concern to the United States. Weapons were never discovered, but Hussein was ousted and eventually executed in 2006 following a trial by an Iraqi Special Tribunal.

President Barack Obama maintains that the troop pullout is the fulfillment of an election promise but many political analysts suggest that U.S. influence in the country will not subside.

Although troops have been pulled out of the country, the Obama administration has vowed to continue to offer civilian assistance to Iraq and the military bases which will remain intact throughout the country. Furthermore, many troops will be stationed in neighboring Kuwait.

The official end of the war came last week with a ceremony held in Baghdad.

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta attended the ceremony, announcing to troops that their efforts aided in casting “tyranny aside.”

“You will leave with great pride – lasting pride,” Panetta told the remaining troops at the Baghdad military base.