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U.S. Says Plans To Withdraw Troops From Iraq On Track

The site of a suicide bombing in the restive city of Baqubah on March 3
The Pentagon says it would consider slowing down its troop withdrawal from Iraq only if security there became "extraordinarily dire."

The Pentagon comment came after 33 people were killed in suicide bombings in the Iraqi city of Baquba.

The United States is now scheduled to end combat operations in Iraq by August, and withdraw troop levels to 50,000 by the end of that month.

A Pentagon spokesman described the March 7 parliamentary poll as the first in Iraq "not taking place during a large-scale insurgency and widespread sectarian violence."

He said U.S. troops would stand ready to assist Iraqi security forces with any emergencies "if called upon."

The spokesman said the Pentagon plans to maintain current troop levels through the election and "in the weeks following" to ensure a peaceful Iraqi transition.

compiled from agency reports