BY STEPHANIE COSBY, News Editor

President Barack Obama announced this past Friday, October 21 that all United States troops will be withdrawn from Iraq by the end of this year.

“As promised, the rest of our troops in Iraq will come home by the end of the year,” Obama said. “After nearly nine years, America’s war in Iraq will be over.”

Obama announced the decision after a phone conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki. He said both he and the Prime Minister agree that United States withdrawal is the proper course of action.

According to MSNBC, the role of the United States military has been “reduced to advising Iraqi security forces.” Violence has decreased since a peak in 2006-2007, but MSNBC reports that insurgent attacks still occur daily.

MLive.com reports that there are fewer than 40,000 military personnel in Iraq. MSNBC says the Obama administration plans to leave 160 soldiers in place to continue training military forces and to protect the Unites States Embassy. Others will remain to perform special operations.

Republican politicians like Senator John McCain have criticized this decision, saying that it goes against the advice of United States military personnel and that the move could embolden Iran.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has refuted these claims, according to Voices of America. “No nation, including Iran, should doubt the U.S. resolve to support Iraq’s democracy,” she said. Further, President Obama emphasized that “the U.S. will continue to have an interest in an Iraq that is stable, secure, and self-reliant.”

Since the initial Iraqi invasion in March 2003, roughly 4,400 military members have been killed, says MLive.com.