U.S. troops are leaving Iraq by the end of the year because the Iraqi government rejected American demands for forces to be shielded from prosecution and lawsuits, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said, according to the Associated Press.
While President Obama made the announcement on Friday that all troops would be withdrawn by Dec. 31—under the terms of a 2008 security agreement—his administration had pushed for troops to stay for longer, due to continued violence. The administration asked for immunity for its troops.
"When the Americans asked for immunity, the Iraqi side answered that it was not possible,” the AP quoted al-Maliki as saying. “The discussions over the number of trainers and the place of training stopped. Now that the issue of immunity was decided and that no immunity to be given, the withdrawal has started.”
Nearly 40,000 U.S. troops are currently serving in Iraq, according to the AP.