Maliki: US Iraq pull-out to Proceed as Scheduled
No more US troops after the end of 2011 Middle East Online BAGHDAD:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has said US forces will leave Iraq as scheduled by year's end, and that there will not be any permanent US bases in the country, a statement from his office said on Tuesday.
<P align=justify>"The agreement on the withdrawal of American forces will be implemented on schedule by the end of the year, and there will not be any bases for US forces here," Maliki told Al-Ittijah TV channel in an interview to be broadcast later, it said.
<P align=justify>Iraqi leaders have approved negotiations with the United States on a post-2011 training mission, but no deal has yet been announced.
<P align=justify>However, an extension of the US military presence in Iraq has been strongly opposed by some, notably by radical anti-US cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who has warned of "war" if American forces stay.
<P align=justify>Unless Baghdad and Washington reach a new accord, all of the roughly 46,000 US troops still in the country must leave by December 31, under the terms of a 2008 security agreement.
<P align=justify>Baghdad airspace 'restricted' after threats
<P align=justify>Baghdad's airspace was temporarily "restricted" on Tuesday morning for about an hour because of the threat of rocket or mortar attack, a US military spokeswoman said.
<P align=justify>"We learned that there was a credible indirect fire threat earlier today, which resulted in an elevation in security level and additional security measures enacted, but the airport was not shut down," Major Angela Funaro said in an emailed response to questions.
<P align=justify>Indirect fire is the term the US military uses to refer to rocket or mortar attacks.
Funaro said a "temporary flight restriction" was imposed on Baghdad for around an hour, but did not give further details and declined to say what security measures were enacted.
<P align=justify>Baghdad airport is west of the city and adjacent to Victory Base, one of the largest US military installations in Iraq.
The US is currently responsible for securing Iraq's airspace, but all American forces are due to withdraw by year's end, unless Baghdad and Washington reach an accord on a post-2011 training mission.