Iraqi military forces are maintaining security in the country, allowing the planned withdrawal of US troops by the end of August to go ahead, according to the commander of US forces in Iraq Army General Raymond T Odierno.

Odierno said al-Qaida’s strength in Iraq was steadily degrading, and that in the first three months of fiscal 2010 Iraq experienced the lowest number of attacks since US forces moved to the country.

“US service members will continue to assist and advise Iraqi security forces and provide support to provincial reconstruction teams, UN organisations. They will still conduct partnered counterterrorism operations with the Iraqis,” he said.

Around 95,000 US troops are currently operating in Iraq This figure will decrease to 50,000 by 1 September unless a disastrous and unforeseen change occurs in the security situation, according to the army general.

The US will withdraw all forces by the end of 2011 as part of its agreement with Iraq.

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