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IRAQ: Iraqis celebrate U.S. military's departure

Iraq Dance Iraqis are jubilantly celebrating the departure of U.S. troops from their country, The Times is reporting. After counting down the days, they rejoicing by dancing and singing. According to The Times, Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has declared June 30 “a day of national sovereignty,” designating it a public holiday.

In central Baghdad’s Zawra Park, a mild dust storm did little to deter thousands of people from gathering to celebrate as fireworks lighted  up the sky. The BBC reports that musicians and poets entertained and that flowers adorned police patrol vehicles. On the social-networking site Twitter, people are posting congratulatory messages with the hashtag #Iraq such as “Happy National Sovereignty Day!” The Times also has a photo gallery accompanying the story on the celebrations. 

-- Amber Smith in Los Angeles

Photo: Iraqi security forces react in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, on Monday. U.S. troops will be out of Iraqi cities by Tuesday in the first step toward winding down the American war effort by the end of 2011. Credit: Nabil al-Jurani / Associated Press

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