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US rebrands military campaign in Iraq

US troops training soldiers in Iraq
US forces are to start pulling out after elections in Iraq

The US military operation in Iraq is to be renamed Operation New Dawn later this year, according to a defence department memo.

The change, set to take place in September, aims to reflect the reduced role of US troops as their numbers in Iraq fall to around 50,000.

US troops went into Iraq in 2003 under Operation Iraqi Freedom.

President Barack Obama has pledged to withdraw all combat troops by the end of August.

About 100,000 troops remain in Iraq and up to 50,000 are expected to remain there until the end of 2011 to help train and equip Iraqi forces.

'Strong signal'

A copy of the memo signed by US defence chief Robert Gates was obtained by ABC news on Thursday.

The memo said the name change scheduled for 1 September "sends a strong signal that Operation Iraqi Freedom has ended and that our forces are operating under a new mission".

"It also presents opportunities to synchronize strategic communications initiatives, reinforce our commitment to honor the security agreement and recognize our evolving relationship with the Iraqi government," it said.



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