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U.S. Middle East Commander To Leave Post --> .S. Army General John Abizaid (file photo) (epa) December 20, 2006 -- The U.S. military says the general who oversees American military operations in the Middle East intends to leave his post in early 2007.

General John Abizaid became chief of the U.S. Central Command in July 2003, just months after U.S.-led forces toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

The announcement comes just days after new Defense Secretary Robert Gates took over from Donald Rumsfeld.

(AFP, Reuters)

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