Dec. 18 - Iraqis welcome US withdrawal as latest violence targets judge's home. Jessica Gray reports.
Rubble is all that's left of this house in northern Iraq. On Sunday, militants detonated bombs targeting the home of a prominent judge. The blast missed the judge but injured 4 of his children and 5 neighbours. Attacks like this one are still common across the country. Despite this, Iraqis are optimistic about their future now that U.S. troops have pulled out. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) IRAQI CITIZEN NABEIL ABOUD, SAYING: "It is a very happy pleasant occasion for all the Iraqi people. This is the day which all Iraqis have been looking forward to. Iraq has restored full sovereignty and Iraq is now considered a free country. We hope that upcoming governments and the present government keep moving forward. We hope that they (politicians) achieve real reconciliation and forget the past." Iraq's military says it is ready to take on the responsibility of securing the nation. (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CHIEF-OF-STAFF LIEUTENANT GENERAL BABAKIR ZEBARI, SAYING: "There is no doubt or fear about the readiness of the Iraqi forces to maintain internal security, because the U.S. troops have gradually pulled out from all their bases over more than one-and-a-half years and we have taken over the responsibilities of all these bases. The Iraqi army and police have been conducting operations against al Qaeda and terrorism." The conflict in Iraq began in 2003 when the U.S. forces invaded to topple Saddam Hussein. Only 150 troops will remain after Dec 31. Jessica Gray, Reuters