BAGHDAD (AP) -- Cheered wildly by U.S. troops, President Barack Obama flew unannounced into Iraq on Tuesday and promptly declared it is time for Iraqis "take responsibility for their country" after America's commitment of six years and thousands of lives.
"You have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country," the president said as he made a brief inspection of a war he opposed as candidate and now vows to end as commander in chief. "That is an extraordinary achievement."
A total of 4,266 U.S. troops have lost their lives in Iraq since March 2003, and Obama said American forces had "performed brilliantly ... under enormous strain."
"It is time for us to transition to the Iraqis," he said as an estimated 600 troops cheered. "They need to take responsibility for their country."