Fewer than 50K troops remain in Iraq

Fewer than 50,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, the White House said Tuesday, representing the final drawdown of American forces for the next 16 months.

At Tuesday's White House press briefing on Martha's Vineyard, where President Obama is vacationing, White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan said this "reaches the goal" set by the president as part of a transition to "full Iraqi responsibility."

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"Today’s announcement comes one week in advance of the end of August, the date that was set for the formal shift in the U.S. mission in Iraq from combat to support of Iraqi security forces," he said.

"On Sept. 1, our mission will shift and we will have a change in command in Iraq," Brennan added. "The president will be making a speech to mark this important transition."

Brennan said some 94,000 troops have been removed from Iraq since Obama became president — a "truly remarkable achievement for our military and for the country," he said.

Gen. Ray Odierno, the top U.S. general in Iraq, said at a press briefing in Baghdad that around 49,700 troops are left, and that the number "will stay at that level through next summer,"according to Agence France-Presse.

The move comes after a major drawdown of combat troops last week that left about 6,000 still stationed in the country. That troop movement began the end-phase of the combat stage of the war, which began in 2003, and ushered in a new era of U.S. involvement there.

Remaining U.S. troops in Iraq will help train and provide support for the Iraqi security forces.

Vice President Joe Biden said in a speech before a veterans group on Monday that U.S. involvement in Iraq will last over the long term. 

Obama is expected to deliver a major address on the Iraq troop drawdown and U.S. national security objectives on Aug. 31; House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) will speak on the same topic the same day.

This post was updated at 2:38 p.m.