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Rep expects troops to remain in Iraq into 2012

WASHINGTON – The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee believes that U.S. troops will remain in Iraq after this December, even though the current status of forces agreement calls for all American servicemembers to be out of the country by 2012.

Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said he expects the Iraqi government to amend that agreement to permit some U.S. trainers and counterterrorism units to remain past the deadline. And, despite past opposition to the war from many Democratic lawmakers, Smith said he expects support from both political parties for leaving “a small number” of troops there.

“If we’re still talking about 50,000, then you would have some disagreement,” he said at a meeting with reporters on Thursday. “There still has to be a significant drawdown by Jan. 1. But if we’re talking about a small number of trainers, counterterrorism operations, then I think we’re amenable to it.”

The U.S. force in Iraq has dropped by more than 60,000 troops in the last year, as Defense Department officials work towards ending operations there.

Pentagon officials have not yet received any formal request from the Iraq government to amend the December deadline.

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